LDL cholesterol in early pregnancy and offspring cardiovascular disease risk factors

J Clin Lipidol. 2016 Nov-Dec;10(6):1369-1378.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2016.08.016. Epub 2016 Sep 8.


Background: Vast amounts of data show associations between maternal obesity, dysglycemia, diabetes, and undernutrition during pregnancy and increased cardiovascular disease risk in offspring. However, elevated maternal LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) in pregnancy and offspring cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk has scarcely been studied.

Objective: Our objective was to investigate the associations between elevated maternal LDL-C in pregnancy and CVD risk factors in 6-to-13-year-old offspring.

Methods: We recruited 6-to-13-year-old children whose mothers attended a pregnancy cohort and who had high or low cholesterol in pregnancy, defined as LDL-C over the 90th percentile or below the 10th percentile within the pregnancy cohort, respectively. We measured CVD risk factors in the children in the 2 groups.

Results: Maternal plasma LDL-C at gestational week 14 to 16 was 4.0 and 1.4 mmol/L in the hypercholesterolemic (n = 27) and hypocholesterolemic (n = 34) groups, respectively (P < .001). Interestingly, offspring plasma LDL-C was 0.4 mmol/L higher in children whose mothers had hypercholesterolemia during pregnancy (P < .01). We found no difference in birthweight or any other clinical or biochemical CVD risk factors or dietary intake between the children at 6-13 years.

Conclusions: Women with elevated LDL-C during early pregnancy have offspring with higher LDL-C already at the age of 6-13 years. Unless cholesterol-reducing measures are successfully implemented, the affected children may be at increased cardiovascular risk.

Keywords: Children; Hypercholesterolemia; LDL; Pregnancy; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diagnosis*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides