Pregnant women are frequently not screened for maternal hyperlipidemia, representing a large missed opportunity to address its effect on both the mother and fetal development. This research will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session & Expo, held March 16-18, 2019 in New Orleans.

This retrospective analysis included 5101 women who were seen between March 2009 and August 2018. These participants gave birth in one of the study’s 2 hospitals and paid a return visit within a 180-day window of birth. The study researchers gathered data on demographics and lipid values.

Among the study participants, 78% (n=3989) were not administered lipid screening before their hospital visit after childbirth. Among those who were screened (n=1112; 22%) for hyperlipidemia, raised triglyceride levels (above 150 mg/dL) were present among 13% (n=150) and raised total cholesterol (above 240 mg/dL) was present among 7% (n=83).

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Women who were white, older, and had diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease were more likely to receive screening.

The study researchers conclude that “[these] data represent a missed opportunity to counsel and treat patients at high risk of long-term complications from maternal hyperlipidemia and address possible effects that it can have on fetal well-being … We can identify at-risk families and promote cascade screening when appropriate.”

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Gopal DJ, Smith CL, Adusumalli S, Soffer D, Denduluri S, Nemiroff R. Screening for hyperlipidemia in pregnant women: an underutilized opportunity for early risk assessment. Presentation at: American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session & Expo; March 16-18, 2019; New Orleans, LA. Abstract 19-A-16194-ACC.

This article originally appeared on Endocrinology Advisor