What do baby lambs
have to do with
It turns out, a whole lot! Researchers are studying Fetal Asphyxia, which is a lack of oxygen during birth that can cause suffocation and lead to severe brain damage and still birth. They are using sheep (ewes (the mamas) and lambs (the babies)) as a model to learn more about Fetal Asphyxia in human babies. The reason they are using sheep is human and sheep placentas are very similar.
Oxygen availability depends on oxygen transfer from the mothers blood supply through the placenta and umbilical cord. Researchers studied fetal bodyweight, birth order and duration of birth and concluded that the longer the birth, the greater the risk for asphyxia. They have discovered that the data in sheep is similar to that of human twins. This is why many times in human multiple births the babies are delivered by c-section and also why all babies are monitored for heart rate during birth.
Now since they have linked multiple births and birth duration to asphyxia they want to study the factors that cause suffocation in ewes and lambs. This information would be beneficial to sheep producers as well as human medical doctors.
I thought this article was a neat example to show the link between animal science research and it's impact on humans!