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Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Jan;107(1):115-20.

Fetal fatty acid oxidation defects and maternal liver disease in pregnancy.

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Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Children's Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women's Hospital, MA 02114, USA.



The objective was to evaluate the relationships between all types of fetal fatty acid oxidation defects and maternal liver disease, including acute fatty liver of pregnancy and hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets (HELLP) syndrome.


This was a case-control study comparing fetal fatty acid oxidation defects to the outcome of maternal liver disease. Fifty case infants with fatty acid oxidation defects were identified, with 25 matched controls collected per case. This generated a total of 50 case infants and 1,250 control infants. Pregnancies were evaluated for the presence of maternal liver disease (comprised of acute fatty liver of pregnancy, HELLP syndrome, and preeclampsia evolving into HELLP syndrome) using a conditional logistic regression model. Subgroup analysis compared long chain to short and medium chain fatty acid defects.


Maternal liver disease was noted in 16.00% of all fatty acid oxidation defect pregnancies compared with 0.88% in the general population (odds ratio 20.4, 95% confidence interval 7.82-53.2). These pregnancies demonstrated an 18.1-fold increase in maternal liver disease when compared with our matched population controls with unaffected fetuses. All classifications of fatty acid oxidation defects were at high risk of developing maternal liver disease. Long chain defects were 50 times more likely than controls to develop maternal liver disease and short and medium chain defects were 12 times more likely to develop maternal liver disease.


Maternal liver disease is significantly higher across the entire spectrum of fatty acid oxidation defects pregnancies compared with the matched control population. Notably, there is significant risk to the pregnancies with fetuses affected with short and medium chain defects, not just those with fetal long chain fatty acid oxidation defects as previously reported. Future studies should examine the pathophysiology of all infant fatty acid oxidation defects and its implications for maternal liver disease for improved future health outcomes.



[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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