Q&A: Why does pregnancy increase blood cholesterol levels?
Why does pregnancy increase blood cholesterol levels?
This is a great question! I got a call from an internal medicine physician just the other day, worried that one of our shared patient’s cholesterol level was high. So not even all doctors are aware that an elevated blood cholesterol level is normal in pregnancy. Given that having had babies is NOT a risk for heart disease, this temporary elevation in cholesterol doesn’t seem to put moms-to-be at risk.
Moms use cholesterol to make progesterone, an important pregnancy hormone. We may have extra around to use for that purpose. Another likely explanation is that the baby needs cholesterol and triglycerides to make cell membranes and the mom’s liver is making extra so that the baby has this source. But these kind of “explanations” don’t really explain how the liver knows to make more cholesterol at the right time.
Regardless of why, it is true that cholesterol is normally elevated in pregnancy, and that this is a good thing. There is no reason to check cholesterol levels in pregnant moms, and medications to lower cholesterol should not be taken while the baby may need this nutrient.
I hope this answers your question!