What if Expecting Mom's Cholesterol is High?

Cholesterol levels in early pregnancy did not increase risk of C sections

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Pregnant women undergo a number of tests and assessments at their prenatal visits. Having higher than normal results in some of the tests does not always mean higher risks.

A recent study found that women with high cholesterol levels in early pregnancy were no more likely to have a C-section than women with normal cholesterol levels.

The researchers did find other risk factors for needing a C-section, including being overweight and having had labor induced.

But higher cholesterol levels did not appear to influence a woman's C-section risk.

"Attend all prenatal visits."

This study, led by Elaine M. Fyfe, MHSc, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, aimed to find out whether high cholesterol in pregnancy played any role in how the pregnancy or birthing process went.

The researchers analyzed data from 840 women who had vaginal births and 196 women who had Cesarean sections, or C-sections, due to their labor not progressing. All of the women were overweight or obese.

All of the women had their cholesterol levels assessed between 14 to 16 weeks into their pregnancies.

The researchers compared the women's early pregnancy cholesterol levels to their method of delivery, after taking into account the women's weight, age, height and type of healthcare provider.

They also took into account whether the women required a labor induction or were delivering at 41 weeks of pregnancy or later.

The women who had higher cholesterol levels at 14 to 16 weeks of pregnancy were not any more likely than women with normal cholesterol levels to need a C-section for their labor not progressing.

Instead, the only risk factors the researchers identified for needing a C-section were being overweight or obese, being older, having had their pregnancy induced or having a long pregnancy (41 weeks or longer).

For every five additional body mass index (BMI) points, the odds of needing a C-section went up 15 percent.

BMI is a ratio of a person's height to weight. It is used to help determine whether someone is at a healthy weight.

For every five years a woman was in age, her odds of needing a C-section for failing to progress in labor increased approximately 37 percent.

Women whose labor had been induced were about twice as likely to need a C-section for failing to progress in labor than women whose labor had not been induced.

Women who were at least 41 weeks pregnant were about 64 percent more likely to need a C-section than women who were fewer weeks pregnant.

The researchers therefore concluded that having high cholesterol levels in early pregnancy was not a risk factor for requiring a C-section later on.

This study was published July 9 in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

The research was funded by a University of Auckland Senior Health Research Scholarship. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 11, 2013
Last Updated:
July 29, 2013