Does pregnancy alter life-course lipid trajectories? Evidence from the HUNT Study in Norway.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Lipid Research. 2018, 59 2403-2412. 10.1194/jlr.P085720
We examined the association between pregnancy and life-course lipid trajectories. Linked data from the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study and the Medical Birth Registry of Norway yielded 19,987 parous and 1,625 nulliparous women. Using mixed-effects spline models, we estimated differences in nonfasting lipid levels from before to after first birth in parous women and between parous and nulliparous women. HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) dropped by −4.2 mg/dl (95% CI: −5.0, −3.3) from before to after first birth in adjusted models, a 7% change, and the total cholesterol (TC) to HDL-C ratio increased by 0.18 (95% CI: 0.11, 0.25), with no change in non-HDL-C or triglycerides. Changes in HDL-C and the TC/HDL-C ratio associated with pregnancy persisted for decades, leading to altered life-course lipid trajectories. For example, parous women had a lower HDL-C than nulliparous women at the age of 50 years (−1.4 mg/dl; 95% CI: −2.3, −0.4). Adverse changes in lipids were greatest after first birth, with small changes after subsequent births, and were larger in women who did not breastfeed. Findings suggest that pregnancy is associated with long-lasting adverse changes in HDL-C, potentially setting parous women on a more atherogenic trajectory than prior to pregnancy.