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J Obstet Gynaecol. 2012 Nov;32(8):747-52. doi: 10.3109/01443615.2012.714017.

Maternal serum cholesterol levels are elevated from the 1st trimester of pregnancy: a cross-sectional study.

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Anu Research Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University College Cork, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland.


Cholesterol is monitored in the non-pregnant adult population, where normal values are established. Although reported to be elevated in pregnancy, cholesterol is neither routinely measured nor treated. We aimed to investigate cholesterol levels throughout pregnancy and to establish reference values for cholesterol in healthy pregnant women. This was a cross-sectional analysis of serum cholesterol in healthy women with an uncomplicated singleton pregnancy. Pregnant women attending for antenatal care were recruited and cholesterol levels assayed at 12, 20, 28 and 36 weeks' gestation and on day 1-3 postpartum. A total of 222 women were recruited. The majority (95%) were white Irish, with a median age of 31 years (range 16-46). Median BMI was 25.9 kg/m2 (range 18-40) and 16% were smokers. Cholesterol levels were elevated in all trimesters of pregnancy, with median values from 1st trimester raised outside the non-pregnant adult range. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels ranged from 0.9 to 3.7 mmol/l and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels ranged from 1.3 to 6.1 mmol/l. Fasting, smoking and obesity did not have any significant effects on results. Total and LDL-cholesterol levels were raised throughout pregnancy. Levels were above non-pregnant adult ranges as early as the 1st trimester. The implications of this on fetus and mother are undetermined and deserve further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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