Context: Elevated lipid levels during late pregnancy are associated with complications and adverse outcome for both mother and newborn. However, it is inconclusive whether a disturbed lipid profile during early pregnancy has similar negative associations.
Objective: Our objective was to investigate whether nonfasting maternal total cholesterol and triglyceride levels during early pregnancy are associated with six major adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Methods: Data were derived from the Amsterdam Born Children and Their Development (ABCD) cohort study. Random blood samples of nonfasting total cholesterol and triglyceride levels were determined during early gestation (median = 13, interquartile range = 12-14 wk). Outcome measures were pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH), preeclampsia, preterm birth, small/large for gestational age (SGA/LGA), and child loss. Only nondiabetic women with singleton deliveries were included; the baseline sample consisted of 4008 women. Analysis for PIH and preeclampsia were performed in nulliparous women only (n = 2037).
Results: Mean (sd) triglyceride and total cholesterol levels were 1.33 (0.55) and 4.98 (0.87) mmol/liter, respectively. The incidence of pregnancy complications and perinatal outcomes were as follows: PIH, 4.9%; preeclampsia, 3.7%; preterm birth, 5.3%; SGA, 9.3%; LGA, 9.3%; and child loss, 1.4%. After adjustments, every unit increase in triglycerides was linearly associated with an increased risk of PIH [odds ratio (OR) = 1.60, P = 0.021], preeclampsia (OR = 1.69, P = 0.018), LGA (OR = 1.48, P < 0.001), and induced preterm delivery (OR = 1.69, P = 0.006). No associations were found for SGA or child loss. Total cholesterol was not associated with any of the outcome measures.
Conclusions: Elevated maternal triglyceride levels measured during early pregnancy are associated with pregnancy complications and adverse pregnancy outcomes. These results suggest that future lifestyle programs in women of reproductive age with a focus on lowering triglyceride levels (i.e. diet, weight reduction, and physical activity) may help to prevent hypertensive complications during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes.