Background: Lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides play an important role in both maternal and foetal energy metabolism. Little is known about maternal lipid levels in pregnancy and their effect on foetal growth. The aim of this study was to assess maternal lipid levels, foetal growth and the risk of small-for-gestational age (SGA) and large-for-gestational age (LGA). Methods: We included 5702 women from the Generation R Study, a prospective population-based cohort. Maternal lipid levels (total cholesterol, triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol [HDL-c]) were measured in early pregnancy (median 13.4 weeks, 90% range [10.5 to 17.2]). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), remnant cholesterol and non-HDL-c were calculated. Foetal growth was measured repeatedly by ultrasound. Information on birth anthropometrics was retrieved from medical records. A birth weight below the 10th percentile was defined as SGA and above the 90th percentile as LGA. Results: Maternal triglyceride and remnant cholesterol levels were associated with increased foetal head circumference and abdominal circumference growth rates. Triglycerides and remnant cholesterol were positively associated with the risk of LGA (odds ratio [OR] 1.11, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.01 to 1.22] and OR 1.11, 95% CI [1.01 to 1.23], respectively). These associations were independent of maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index, but not maternal glucose levels. We observed no association between maternal lipids in early pregnancy and SGA. Conclusions: Our study suggests a novel association of early pregnancy triglyceride and remnant cholesterol levels with foetal growth, patterns of foetal growth and the risk of LGA. Future studies are warranted to explore clinical implication possibilities.

Pregnancy, Lipoproteins, Foetal weight, Infant, Small-for-gestational age, Foetal programming,
BMC Medicine

Adank, M.C., Benschop, H.A.M, Kors, A.W., Peterbroers, K.R., Gregoor, A.M.S., Mulder, M.T, … Steegers, E.A.P. (2020). Maternal lipid profile in early pregnancy is associated with foetal growth and the risk of a child born large-for-gestational age: a population-based prospective cohort study Maternal lipid profile in early pregnancy and foetal growth. BMC Medicine, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12916-020-01730-7