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Impact of Choline Deficiency During Pregnancy on Sow Milk Composition

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  • Choline is an essential nutrient which is required for brain development in the offsprings.
  • Choline metabolites referred to as the ‘Methyl Donors’ are important for carrying out various functions in the body.
  • Study indicates the alteration of sow milk composition due to choline deficiency during pregnancy.

Impact of Choline Deficiency During Pregnancy on Sow Milk Composition

Choline is one of the essential nutrients that is required by the body for early brain development. A research team from the University of Illinois studied the impact of nutrition on brain development in piglets by conducting number of studies related to choline deficiency during pregnancy.

The research study published in The Journal of Nutrition gave details on how choline deficiency during pregnancy would affect the quality of nutrition in their offsprings.


Ryan Dilger, animal nutritionist and co-author University of Illinois said that the study was found to provide information on milk composition.

"We did a lot of analyses not typically done on sow milk. The findings are pertinent to both human clinicians and animal scientists," Dilger explains.

"In humans, many women of child-bearing age are not getting sufficient choline in their diets. While many countries have mandatory fortification programs to get the nutrient folate into the diets of women, those programs don't exist for choline. Choline is another nutrient we should definitely be looking at and it has been gaining emphasis since the Institute of Medicine officially recognized this nutrient as being essential in 1998," he added.

Austin Mudd, doctoral student and lead author of the study also said that there were a number of similarities between sow milk and human milk and therefore pigs can be used as an excellent model for study.

Sow milk is produced by pigs and are consumed by piglets. It is typically similar to cow's milk but contains a higher amount of fat.

The study was conducted by providing choline deficient diet to pregnant sows. Milk was collected from sows after pregnancy at day 0, after 7-9 days and 17-19 days and were analyzed for the different concentrations of choline metabolites, amino acids and fatty acids.

Seven choline metabolites were analysed by the researchers. They are termed as ' Methyl Donors' which help in carrying out various functions in the body.

Researchers also found changes in the milk fatty acids and amino acids by the end of lactation with increased patterns after day 19.

Dilger also said that, "Fatty acids showed the same pattern, that if the sow was provided adequate choline throughout gestation and lactation, between days 0 and 7, fatty acids increased and then plateaued by day 19, versus in those that were deficient, we observed a linear increase."

"If we had followed these sows beyond 19 days of lactation, we could learn just how long perinatal choline deficiency may influence fatty acid composition of the milk." he added.

Mudd said that the study was able to explain the impact of choline deficiency on altering the milk composition and also serves to show the importance of choline to doctors and breast-feeding woman.

Source: Medindia

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