Pregnancy and Statins

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) of the UK, this study further studied the adverse effects of statins on the developing fetus and proved that this concern is directed at all statins, whether lipophilic or hydrophilic.

As they say in the UK, even those that are feeling broody as well as those known or suspected to be pregnant should avoid statins at all costs since often times pregnancy is not diagnosed until the end of the first trimester by which time general body development in the fetus is nearly complete. Statin use during this time is known to be associated with limb and organ malformations in a high percentage of cases. This advice is based on the knowledge that cholesterol is essential for normal fetal development.

Earlier research on statin use during pregnancy had suggested that the detrimental effects of the drugs may be restricted to fat-soluble or ‘lipophilic' statins only. According to this new research from The University of Manchester, even water-soluble or ‘hydrophilic' statins, such as Pravastatin and Crestor can affect placental development, leading to worse pregnancy outcomes.

"The rapid rise in obesity and type-2 diabetes is a major health issue and affected women of childbearing age are often treated with statins to lower circulating cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease," said Dr Melissa Westwood, a Senior Lecturer in Endocrinology in Manchester's Health Research Center at St Mary's Hospital.

The actions of statins are not limited to the regulation of cholesterol levels, as they can affect the production of other chemicals in the body too. As reductase inhibitors, statins work by blocking the reductase step at the beginning of the mevalonate biochemical pathway for the synthesis of cholesterol. Unfortunately many other vital biochemical substances such as coenzymeQ10 and dolichols use this same pathway and, inevitably, are adversely affected by statins. Such collateral damage is responsible for most of the disabling side effects seen in adults.

Duane Graveline MD MPH
Former USAF Flight Surgeon
Former NASA Astronaut
Retired Family Doctor

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