Pre-pregnancy cholesterol level and preterm birth connection?

Women whose cholesterol is too high or too low before pregnancy may be at risk for delivering a premature baby, says a study in the August 2010 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism co-authored by UAB Assistant Professor Melissa Wellons, M.D., in the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Wellons and her co-authors used data collected as part of the CARDIA study to compare the cholesterol levels of women who had given before 34 weeks gestation and those who had babies between 34 and 37 weeks gestation with those who had term births. They looked at pre-pregnancy total cholesterol, HDL, LDL and triglyceride concentrations.

"Our study, which we believe is the first of its kind, shows that there is a relationship between cholesterol level and preterm birth," regardless of other factors, such as the number of times a woman gives birth, her race or her BMI,  Wellons said. "However, further research is needed to identify the mechanisms that link low or high cholesterol to preterm birth, as well as maternal and infant cardiovascular disease risk later in life."