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BACKGROUND: Elevated triglycerides are a feature of the metabolic syndrome, maternal obesity, maternal vasculitis (i.e. systemic lupus erythematosus) and diabetes mellitus. These conditions are all known risk factors for pre-eclampsia. Hypertriglyceridaemia therefore may be associated with pre-eclampsia and indeed this may precede the presence of overt disease. OBJECTIVE: In this study we determine the association between hypertriglyceridaemia and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Excerpta Medica Database, ISI Web of Knowledge, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane Library from inception until June 2012 and reference lists of relevant studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: Two reviewers independently selected studies on pregnant women where triglycerides were measured and women were followed up until the development of pre-eclampsia or selected on the basis of presence of pre-eclampsia and compared with controls. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We collected and meta-analysed the weighted mean differences (WMDs) of triglyceride levels from individual studies using a random effects model. MAIN RESULTS: We found strong evidence from meta-analysis of 24 case-control studies (2720 women) that pre-eclampsia is associated with higher levels of serum triglycerides (WMD 0.78 mmol/l, 95% confidence interval 0.6-0.96, P < 0.00001). This finding is also confirmed in five cohort studies, that recruited 3147 women in the second trimester before the onset of pre-eclampsia, which proves that hypertriglyceridaemia precedes the onset of pre-eclampsia (WMD 0.24 mmol/l, 95% confidence interval 0.13-0.34, P < 0.0001). AUTHOR'S CONCLUSIONS: Hypertriglyceridaemia is associated with and precedes the onset of pre-eclampsia. Further research should focus on defining the prognostic accuracy of this test to identify women at risk and the beneficial effect of triglyceride-lowering therapies in pregnancy.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1321 - 1332


Meta-analysis, pre-eclampsia, predictive marker, systematic review, triglycerides, Female, Humans, Hypertriglyceridemia, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Pregnancy Trimester, Second, Pregnancy Trimester, Third, Risk Factors