Research alert: statins dangerous for pregnant women!

December 9, 2008 in Babies & Kids, Fertility & Pregnancy, Heart Disease | View Comments

pregnant womanBack in July I posted an article called Statins For Pregnant Women and Kids? criticizing a research study that actually recommended statins for pregnant women.

Well, it appears that even mainstream scientists are beginning to acknowledge the very real risks that statins present for pregnant mothers and fetuses.

Current clinical guidelines already recommend that women who are pregnant should stop taking statins but the advice is based on the knowledge that cholesterol is essential for normal fetal development.

But new research from The University of Manchester has shown that even water-soluble or ‘hydrophilic’ statins, such as pravastatin, can affect placental development leading to worse pregnancy outcomes.

According to Dr. Melissa Westwood, a Senior Lecturer in Endocrinology based at the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at St. Mary’s Hospital, Manchester:

“Our study examined the effects that both lipophilic and hydrophilic statins had on a key biological system that is crucial for maintaining the normal function of the placenta, which acts as the nutrient-waste exchange barrier between mother and fetus.”

Fat-soluble statins like cerivastatin were already known to adversely affect the placenta, resulting in reducing growth. But the researchers also found that pravastatin – the water-soluble statin thought to be potentially compatible for use in pregnancy – had the same detrimental effect.

“These results clearly show that the effect of statins on the placenta is not dependent on their lipophilicity as had previously been suggested,” said Dr Westwood, whose findings are published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

“While hydrophilic statins have not been reported to increase the incidence of fetal malformations, our research suggests that they will have a detrimental effect on placental growth, which is likely to result in poor pregnancy outcome.

“Healthcare professionals should continue to advise women to avoid the use of any type of statin once they plan to start a family or when a pregnancy is suspected or confirmed.

  • R

    There just hasn’t been enough research on statins in women. Finally, this is coming out. But is it safe for younger women? How long should she refrain prior to pregnancy?

    As someone who has hereditary high cholesterol and has been on various medications since she was 6, I’d love to see more research on this area. When I got married (after 20+ years of medication!!), I told my doctor that I was discontinuing Lipitor, and he actually tried to discourage me – that we should wait until I actually get pregnant, then weigh the benefits and risks. Apparently he didn’t quite believe the Category X label, there wasn’t enough research one way or another.

    But I discontinued anyway. I felt like twenty-some years of medication with absolutely no studies on my demographic was more than enough time to gather benefits and risks – and the potential risks to any future children far outweighed any potential benefits to me. I’d like some research to see if I was right.

  • Chris

    Thanks for your comment and welcome to the blog!

    I think you made the right choice. You might want to read my previous posts about cholesterol: Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease, The Truth About Statin Drugs, Three Eggs a Day Keep the Doctor Away and How to Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease.

    The gist is this: cholesterol itself doesn’t cause heart disease. Inflammation and oxidative stress cause heart disease. Women suffer 300% less coronary heart disease despite higher average cholesterol levels than men. In the Conference on Low Blood Cholesterol a few years back, 11 major studies with over 120,000 subjects showed no relationship between cholesterol levels and either cardiovascular mortality or total mortality.

    In other words, there’s really no scientific justification for you to be on a statin drug at all – regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not.


  • Chris

    You might also want to check out this article on preventing heart disease without drugs.

  • Nancy Mills

    Hello Ladies,
    I would just like to remind all the ladies out there, that yes, we all want to avoid chemicals in our food, milk and our household while being pregnant. It is very important. I also want to remind everyone that there are alot of chemicals in skincare today, and pregnant women should only use chemical free or Organic face creams.
    Your skin is an organ – that you are sharing with your unborn child. Any chemicals applied to your skin will feed the growth of your child. And please do your research on the internet regarding chemicals in skin care products.
    My personal recommendation, is the Made from Earth product line. They are completely chemical free and organic, and their products have a shelf life of 6 months, because they are not presevred with chemicals, but they do use quality ingredients. I used their 3 Berry Face Serum while I was pregnant, and its a great face cream I highly recommend. It actually uses real blueberries in it.
    Best of luck to everyone!

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