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Theriogenology. 2011 Aug;76(3):512-21. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2011.03.003. Epub 2011 May 6.

Clinical implications of induced twin reduction in dairy cattle.

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  • 1Department of Animal Health and Anatomy, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.


Embryo reduction may prevent the negative effects of twinning in dairy cattle; however, the technique may carry an additional risk of pregnancy loss. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect on pregnancy maintenance of embryo reduction by manual amnion rupture in unilateral and bilateral twin pregnant cows. A secondary objective was to examine the dynamics of endocrine factors following the treatment. On Day 35-41 of gestation 55 cows bearing two live twin embryos (28 bilateral, 27 unilateral) were randomly assigned to a twin reduction group (n = 27; cows fitted with a progesterone releasing intra-vaginal device for 21 days after manual amnion rupture) or control group (n = 28; untreated cows). Pregnancy loss before Day 90 was recorded in nine control and eleven twin reduction cows (32.1% vs 40.7%, respectively, p = 0.508). Logistic regression models indicated that laterality was the only variable significantly affecting pregnancy loss. The pregnancy loss risk was 8.7 times higher for unilateral than for bilateral twin pregnancies (59.3% vs 14.3%, respectively, P < 0.001) yet was similar in the unilateral control and unilateral twin reduction cows (62.3% vs 53.8%, respectively, P = 0.581). In contrast, four of 14 cows with bilateral twin pregnancies undergoing twin reduction lost their pregnancies while no losses were recorded in control cows with bilateral pregnancies (P = 0.049). A rise in plasma progesterone concentration was detected on the day following treatment in the twin reduction group and concentrations remained high within the first week of treatment. Plasma pregnancy-associated glycoprotein-1 (PAG-1) concentrations fell between Day 35-41 and Day 42-48, regardless of treatment. Our findings indicate that embryo reduction by manual amnion rupture did not carry an additional risk of pregnancy loss for unilateral twin pregnancies, whereas it increased the risk of pregnancy failure in bilateral twin pregnancies. However, benefits of preventing cows from delivering twins might also be considered when assessing the success of embryo reduction in bilateral twin pregnancies.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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