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01-11-2009 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Metabolic syndrome increases risk for preterm birth


Free abstract

MedWire News: Pregnant women with the metabolic syndrome in early pregnancy have an increased risk for preterm birth, show study results.

“Previous studies have reported associations between pre-pregnancy obesity, chronic hypertension, dyslipidemia, and inflammation in early pregnancy and high risk of preterm birth and intrauterine growth restriction,” say Leda Chatzi and colleagues from the University of Crete in Heraklion, Greece.

“There are no studies, however, on the association between maternal metabolic syndrome in early pregnancy examined as a whole phenotype with birth outcomes,” they add.

The researchers used data from the mother-child “Rhea” Study, a prospective cohort study of pregnant women in Crete, who were recruited in 2007, and their subsequent offspring. A cohort of 625 women had sufficient data collected to be included in the current analysis.

The team assessed prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in participating women using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATPIII) criteria, namely, three from obesity, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high fasting glucose, at a mean of 11.96 weeks’ gestation.

Some allowance was made for pregnancy, for example, abdominal circumference was not used as a measure of obesity, but a body mass index of above 30 kg/m2 pre-pregnancy was used instead. Measures of lipids, glucose, and blood pressure were the same as those normally used for diagnosing the metabolic syndrome using NCEP-ATPIII criteria.

The researchers report that women who had the metabolic syndrome in early pregnancy were a significant 2.93 times more likely to have a preterm birth, defined as birth at less than 37 weeks among singleton gestations, than women without the metabolic syndrome.

In addition, women with the metabolic syndrome were even more likely to undergo preterm emergency cesarean or induced labor with a significant 5.13-fold increased relative risk compared with women without the condition.

“These results suggest that women with metabolic syndrome in early pregnancy had higher risk for preterm birth,” conclude Chatzi et al in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

They add: “The complex underlying processes that explain these findings require additional study.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2009

By Helen Albert