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Volume 154 | Issue 0 (September 2020)

In utero heat stress alters postnatal phenotypes in swine.

Theriogenology. September 2020;154(0):110-119.
Jay S Johnson1, Kara R Stewart2, Tim J Safranski3, Jason W Ross4, Lance H Baumgard5
1 USDA-ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA. Electronic address:; 2 Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907, USA.; 3 Division of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA.; 4 Department of Animal Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011, USA.; 5 Department of Animal Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011, USA.
Published by Elsevier Inc.


The prenatal environment influences offspring health and development, and this is readily apparent when considering the well-described effects of maternal nutrition and stress on the postnatal metabolism, neural function, and stress response of progeny. Moreover, in laboratory species, sheep, and humans, the effects of in utero heat stress on offspring development have been described in detail for >50 years. Despite our extensive knowledge of the postnatal phenotypes elicited by in utero stressors, the carryover effects of in utero heat stress in pigs have only recently begun to be elucidated. The effects of climate change on increasing global temperatures, combined with greater metabolic heat production in modern swine, has increased heat stress susceptibility in pigs. Greater heat stress susceptibility can negatively affect swine welfare and performance and may impact future generations of pigs through in utero heat stress. Pigs exposed to in utero heat stress develop a variety of postnatal phenotypes that prevent profitable production, and compromise health, and welfare in commercial production systems. Specifically, in utero heat stress alters the postnatal stress response, core body temperature, response to an immune challenge, and is teratogenic. In addition, in utero heat stress changes postnatal body composition through reduced lean and increased adipose tissue accretion rates, respectively. Furthermore, in utero heat stress reduces piglet birth weight, body weight gain, and reproductive efficiency. Although the economic impact of in utero heat stress in pigs has yet to be determined, it likely rivals the postnatal consequences of heat stress and is a threat to the global sustainability of swine production.

Health; In utero heat stress; Physiology; Pigs; Production; Welfare;

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