The effect of maternal dietary selenium (Se) and gestation on the concentrations of Se and zinc (Zn) in the porcine fetus were determined. Mature gilts were randomly assigned to treatments of either adequate (0.39 ppm Se) or low (0.05 ppm Se) dietary Se. Gilts were bred and fetuses were collected throughout gestation. Concentrations of Se in maternal whole blood and liver decreased during gestation in sows fed the low-Se diet compared to sows fed the Se-supplemented diet. Maternal intake of Se did not affect the concentration of Se in the whole fetus; however, the concentration of Se in fetal liver was decreased in fetuses of sows fed the low-Se diet. Although fetal liver Se decreased in both treatments as gestation progressed, the decrease was greater in liver of fetuses from sows fed the low-Se diet. Dietary Se did not affect concentrations of Zn in maternal whole blood or liver or in the whole fetus and fetal liver. The concentration of Se in fetal liver was lower but the concentration of Zn was greater than in maternal liver when sows were fed the adequate Se diet. These results indicate that maternal intake of Se affects fetal liver Se and newborn piglets have lower liver Se concentrations compared to their dams, regardless of the Se intake of sows during gestation. Thus, the piglet is more susceptible Se deficiency than the sow.
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