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Lipids. 1994 Dec;29(12):859-68.

Hematological and lipid changes in newborn piglets fed milk replacer diets containing vegetable oils with different levels of n-3 fatty acids.

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Center for Food and Animal Research, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.


To test if linolenic acid (18:3n-3) from vegetable oils would affect bleeding times and platelet counts in newborns, piglets were used as a model fed milk replacer diets containing 25% (by wt) vegetable oils or oil mixtures for 28 d and compared to sow-reared piglets. The oils tested included soybean, canola, olive, high oleic sunflower (HOAS), a canola/coconut mixture and a mixture of oils mimicking canola in fatty acid composition. All piglets fed the milk replacer diets showed normal growth. Bleeding times increased after birth from 4-6 min to 7-10 min by week 4 (P < 0.001), and were higher in pigs fed diets containing 18:3n-3, as well as in sow-reared piglets receiving n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in the milk, as compared to diets low in 18:3n-3. Platelet numbers increased within the first week in newborn piglets from 300 to 550 x 10(9)/L, and remained high thereafter. Milk replacer diets, containing vegetable oils, generally showed a transient delay in the rise of platelet numbers, which was partially associated with an increased platelet volume. The oils showed differences in the length of delay, but by the third week of age, all platelet counts were > 500 x 10(9)/L. The delay in rise in platelet counts appeared to be related to the fatty acid composition of the oil, as the effect was reproduced by a mixture of oils with a certain fatty acid profile, and disappeared upon the addition of saturated fatty acids to the vegetable oil. There were no alterations in the coagulation factors due to the dietary oils. Blood plasma, platelets and red blood cell membranes showed increased levels of 18:3n-3 and long-chain n-3 PUFA in response to dietary 18:3n-3. The level of saturated fatty acids in blood lipids was generally lower in canola and HOAS oil-fed piglets as compared to piglets fed soybean oil or reared with the sow. The results suggest that consumption of milk replacer diets containing vegetable oils rich in 18:3n-3 does not represent a bleeding risk, and that the transient lower platelet count can be counterbalanced by the addition of saturated fatty acids to the vegetable oils.

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