LDL PregnancyBy Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: June 16th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Researchers have found a link between women who give birth prematurely and high cholesterol. But they’re still unsure whether there’s something about pre-term birth that causes cholesterol levels to rise, or if high cholesterol itself might trigger the early birth.
Either way, it’s a source of concern because high cholesterol can lead to heart disease, doctors say.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, compared about fifty women who had a pre-term birth to about one-hundred women who gave birth to full-term infants.
For the purposes of the study, a pre-term birth was defined as fewer than thirty-seven weeks of gestation.
The women’s blood was tested about seven years after their babies were born.
The study found that the earlier a woman gave birth, the more likely she was to have high cholesterol.
Even when factors such as race, smoking history and body mass index were factored in, women who had a preterm birth were more than twice as likely to develop cholesterol levels considered unhealthy according to American Heart Association guidelines.
The women were also more likely to have elevated levels of L-D-L or “bad” cholesterol.
Researchers recommend that any woman who had a preterm birth get a yearly physical to check for elevated cholesterol.
But these women aren’t the only ones who should worry about cholesterol. The American Heart Association says everyone should eat foods that are low in saturated fat, maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly to keep cholesterol low.