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To investigate effects of preterm induction of calving by administration of flumethasone and dinoprost on the lecithin-to-sphingomyelin ratio in amniotic fluid and on neonatal respiratory distress after birth.


45 dairy cows and their newborn calves.


Amniotic fluid from 45 cows was obtained and tested between days 258 and 270 of gestation. Cows were then given flumethasone (10 mg; n = 15), dinoprost (25 mg; n = 15), or saline solution (n = 15). Thirty hours later, left flank cesarean section was performed, amniotic fluid was collected, and the calf was delivered. Blood for determination of progesterone was withdrawn at amniotic fluid sample collections and before induction of calving. Blood for analysis of pH and base deficit was collected from calves during cesarean section and repeatedly after birth. Phospholipids in amniotic fluid were measured by thin-layer chromatography, and progesterone was determined by radioimmunoassay. Base deficit and pH were measured, using a blood gas analyzer.


Before treatments, a corpus luteum was present in all cows and the lecithin-to-sphingomyelin ratio in amniotic fluid did not differ between groups. Thirty hours after injections of flumethasone and dinoprost, progesterone concentration had decreased (P < 0.05) and the lecithin-to-sphingomyelin ratio was significantly (P < 0.05) higher than values in controls. In calves delivered after flumethasone or dinoprost treatments, the degree of acidosis was significantly (P < 0.05) less than that in controls.


Flumethasone and dinoprost, given to pregnant cows, accelerate fetal lung maturation and improve respiratory function after birth. (Am J Vet Res 1997;58:404–407)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Labor and delivery stimulate increased release of catecholamines and endogenous opioid peptides in neonates. Catecholamines promote adaptation to the extrauterine environment after birth. Enkephalins are stored together with catecholamines in the adrenal medulla and have an inhibitory effect on catecholamine release. We investigated the influence of labor and neonatal hypoxia on epinephrine, norepinephrine, and met-enkephalin release in calves. Blood samples were taken from the umbilical artery before rupture of the umbilical cord and from the jugular vein repeatedly after birth. Highest plasma norepinephrine concentration was found in calves delivered at the end of gestation (term calves) before umbilical cord rupture. In calves delivered before the physiologic end of gestation (preterm calves), norepinephrine values increased after cord rupture, but remained lower than values in term calves. Epinephrine release followed a similar pattern, but norepinephrine was clearly predominant. In term calves, met-enkephalin values were significantly higher than values in preterm calves. In calves of both groups, met-enkephalin release increased after cord rupture. During birth, the increase in catecholamine release seems to take place earlier than that of enkephalins. Norepinephrine-dominated stimulation during expulsion of the calf might be followed by increasing enkephalinergic inhibition after cord rupture and onset of respiration. Reduced release of catecholamines and enkephalins in preterm calves may be connected with delayed adaptation to the extrauterine environment.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research