AIMS--The effects on fetal growth of hyperlipidaemia in pregnancy are not well understood at present. In this study the different lipid fractions in normal pregnancies and pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) were determined and related to changes in plasma and serum viscosity. METHODS--Two groups of pregnant women were studied. Group 1 consisted of 35 healthy pregnant women aged between 21 and 38 years with no previous pathology and a normal pregnancy to term. Group 1 patients were studied at four periods defined at the start of the study: (1) < or = 17 weeks; (2) 18-24 weeks; (3) 25-32 weeks, (4) > or = 33 weeks. Group 2 consisted of 24 pregnant women aged between 16 and 34 years with ultrasound diagnosed IUGR confirmed after birth. Plasma lipids and plasma and serum viscosity were measured. RESULTS--Plasma triglycerides, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and total cholesterol increased progressively throughout pregnancy, with significantly higher values after week 25. Apolipoprotein A (ApoA) and triglyceride concentrations were significantly lower in the IUGR group than in the normal group. The HDL/ApoA ratio was greater in the IUGR group than in the control group, as was the ApoB/ApoA ratio. There were no differences in the other lipids. Plasma and serum viscosity was higher in the IUGR group than in the normal group. CONCLUSIONS--Haemorheological modifications in the IUGR group are partly secondary to changes in high density lipoprotein metabolism and the competitive inhibition of fibrinolysis by ApoB, which is increased in pregnancies with IUGR. Changes in ApoA, and more specifically in the ApoB/ApoA ratio, could be good markers for the early detection of IUGR.
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