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Patterns of cardiovascular risk factors in the years before pregnancy in nulliparous women with and without preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age delivery

Retnakaran R, Shah BR. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021: e021321. Epub 2021 Jun 2. DOI:

Background — Women with either preterm or small-for-gestational-age (SGA) delivery have an elevated lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease that has been attributed to the accrual of vascular risk factors over time. We sought to determine whether an adverse cardiovascular risk factor profile develops in the years before pregnancies complicated by preterm delivery or SGA.

Methods and Results — Using administrative databases, we identified all 156 278 nulliparous women in Ontario, Canada, who had singleton pregnancies between January 2011 and December 2018 and ≥2 measurements of the following analytes between January 2008 and the start of pregnancy: glycosylated hemoglobin, glucose, lipids, and alanine aminotransferase. There were 11 078 women with preterm delivery and 19 367 with SGA. The 2 most recent pregravid tests were performed at median 0.6 (interquartile range, 0.3-1.4) and 1.9 (interquartile range, 1.1-3.3) years before pregnancy, respectively. Women with preterm delivery had higher pregravid glycosylated hemoglobin, glucose, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and alanine aminotransferase, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, than those without preterm delivery. In contrast, women with SGA had lower pregravid fasting glucose, random glucose, and triglycerides than those without SGA. In the years before pregnancy, women with preterm delivery had higher annual increases than their peers in glycosylated hemoglobin (0.7-times higher), triglycerides (7.9-times higher), and alanine aminotransferase (2.2-times higher). During this time, fasting glucose increased in women who developed preterm delivery but decreased in their peers.

Conclusions — An adverse cardiovascular risk factor profile evolves over time in the years before pregnancy complicated by preterm delivery, but does not necessarily precede SGA.

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