Pregnancy estriol, estradiol, progesterone and prolactin in relation to birth weight and other birth size variables (United States)

Cancer Causes Control. 2003 May;14(4):311-8. doi: 10.1023/a:1023966813330.


Objective: Because birth weight has been positively associated with adult life breast cancer risk and pregnancy estrogens have been hypothesized to affect breast cancer risk in the offspring, we have evaluated the association of pregnancy estriol (E3), estradiol (E2), progesterone and prolactin in maternal serum samples collected during the 16th and 27th gestational week with birth size parameters.

Methods: Prospective study of 230 Caucasian women who delivered a live singleton after 37-42 weeks of gestation.

Results: E3 at the 27th gestational week was significantly positively associated with birth weight, birth length and placental weight. Progesterone at the 27th gestational week was also significantly positively associated with birth weight and placental weight but, after mutual adjustment among the studied pregnancy hormones, these associations weakened considerably. There was also inconsistent evidence that SHBG and prolactin at the 27th gestational week may be respectively positively and inversely related with birth size parameters. Measurements during the 16th gestational week were generally unrelated to birth size parameters.

Conclusions: Because E3 is a dominant estrogen during pregnancy, the positive association of it with birth weight allows the use of the latter as a proxy of in utero exposure to estrogens in breast cancer investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight*
  • Estradiol / blood*
  • Estriol / blood*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Progesterone / blood*
  • Prolactin / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States


  • Progesterone
  • Estradiol
  • Prolactin
  • Estriol