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Maternal plasma cholesterol and duration of pregnancy: A prospective cohort study in Ghana.

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Low plasma cholesterol may be associated with preterm birth; however, results are mixed and limited primarily to high-income countries. Our objective was to determine whether maternal plasma lipid concentrations are associated with pregnancy duration. We performed a nested cohort (n = 320) study of pregnant Ghanaian women enrolled in a randomized controlled trial. Total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglyceride concentrations were analyzed in plasma at ≤20and 36 weeks gestation as continuous variables and also categorized into low, referent, or high (<10th, 10th-90th, >90th percentile). At ≤20 weeks, plasma lipid concentrations were not associated with pregnancy duration. At 36 weeks, total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were not associated with pregnancy duration. Higher HDL-C at 36 weeks was associated with a longer pregnancy duration (adjusted β-coefficient ± standard error: 0.05 ± 0.02 days mg-1 /dL, p = .02); pregnancy duration was 5.9 ± 2.0 (mean ± standard error) days shorter among women with low HDL-C compared with the referent group (10th-90th percentile) (p = .02) and 8.6 ± 2.6 days shorter when compared with the high HDL-C group (p = .003). Pregnancy duration was 4.9 ± 2.1 days longer among women with low low-density lipoprotein cholesterol at 36 weeks gestation when compared with the referent group (p = .051). Our data suggest that low HDL-C in the third trimester of pregnancy is associated with a shorter duration of pregnancy in this study population but do not support the hypothesis that low total cholesterol is associated with a shorter pregnancy duration.

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