Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cholesterol is vital at the beginning of life

Low cholesterol levels in pregnant women increase the risk of preterm births and underweight babies.

Yesterday I have reported on a marginally (0.7 percent) elevated risk of heart disease that may be linked to, but is not necessarily caused by, a high level of blood cholesterol.

Besides being not so bad for health as is always said, a new study shows an adverse birth outcome among mothers with low serum cholesterol: Cholesterol, it seems, is of vital importance for the health of the newborn.

About a thousand mothers have been assessed, and about a hundred of them had a low level of blood cholesterol. Among these, twelve percent delivered preterm, compared to only five percent of mothers with medium cholesterol levels. In babies born at term, those of mothers with a low cholesterol level weighed less than those of mothers with a higher cholesterol level.

Obviously, we cannot say that a low cholesterol level, generally considered as good for health, is so at any moment of life. This may be true not only at the beginning of life but also in old age: Cholesterol levels tend to rise with age, and this may be an adaptation to a higher cholesterol demand of the ageing organism.

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