Preterm delivery and low maternal serum cholesterol level: any correlation?


  • Ayodeji A. Oluwole Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, Nigeria
  • Maymunah A. Adegbesan-Omilabu Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, Nigeria
  • Kehinde S. Okunade Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Lagos, Nigeria


Hypocholesterolaemia, Physiologic hypercholesterolaemia, Preterm birth, preterm delivery, Perinatal mortality


Background: Preterm birth is a major challenge in perinatal health care with prematurity accounting for 40-60% of all perinatal deaths in Nigeria. The physiologic hypercholesterolaemia of later pregnancy suggests an adaptive function for pregnancy maintenance or fetal growth. Decreased levels of maternal total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol have been reported in association with preterm delivery.

Methods: This was a prospective observational cohort study designed to assess whether low maternal serum cholesterol during early pregnancy is associated with preterm delivery in these women. Eligible participants were enrolled for the study at gestational age of 14 to 20 weeks over a period of 12 months. Blood samples were obtained to measure total serum cholesterol concentrations and the sera were then analyzed enzymatically by the Cholesterol Oxidase: p-Aminophenazone (CHOD PAP) method.

Results: The study showed an incidence of 5.0% for preterm delivery in the low risk study patients. Preterm birth was 4.83-times more common with low total maternal cholesterol than with midrange total cholesterol (11.8% versus 2.2%, P = 0.024).

Conclusions: We can infer from the study that the low maternal serum cholesterol (hypocholesterolaemia) is associated with preterm delivery. We can therefore recommend on this basis that the concept of an optimal range for maternal serum cholesterol during pregnancy may have merit and pregnant women should be encouraged to follow a healthy, balanced diet and ensure regular antenatal visit to their healthcare provider.


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Original Research Articles