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Lancet. 1999 Oct 9;354(9186):1234-41.

Influence of maternal hypercholesterolaemia during pregnancy on progression of early atherosclerotic lesions in childhood: Fate of Early Lesions in Children (FELIC) study.

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1
Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Children generally have low cholesterol and no clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis, but fatty-streak formation begins in fetuses and is greatly increased by maternal hypercholesterolaemia during pregnancy. In the FELIC study we assessed the evolution of such lesions during childhood.

METHODS:

Computer-assisted imaging was used to measure the area of the largest individual lesion and the cumulative lesion area per section in serial cross-sections through the entire aortic arch and abdominal aorta of 156 normocholesterolaemic children aged 1-13 years, who died of trauma and other causes. Children were classified by whether their mother had been normocholesterolaemic (n=97) or hypercholesterolaemic (n=59) during pregnancy. Atherosclerosis was correlated with 13 established or potential risk factors. Findings The largest fatty streaks in the aortic arch of children younger than 3 years of hypercholesterolaemic mothers were 64% smaller than those previously found in corresponding fetuses (p<0.0001), which suggests that fetal fatty streaks may regress after birth. In the two groups, lesion size in the aortic arch and abdominal aorta increased linearly with age (r=0.87-0.98). However, lesions progressed strikingly faster in children of hypercholesterolaemic mothers than in those of normocholesterolaemic mothers (p<0.0001). Conventional risk factors for atherosclerosis in children or mothers correlated with lesion size, but did not account for the faster progression of atherogenesis in normocholesterolaemic children of hypercholesterolaemic mothers.

INTERPRETATION:

Our results suggest that maternal hypercholesterolaemia during pregnancy induces changes in the fetal aorta that determine the long-term susceptibility of children to fatty-streak formation and subsequent atherosclerosis. If so, cholesterol-lowering interventions in hypercholesterolaemic mothers during pregnancy may decrease atherogenesis in children.

PMID:
10520631
DOI:
10.1016/S0140-6736(99)02131-5
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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