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Maternal age, anthropometrics and pregnancy oestriol


Dr Magnus Kaijser, Department of Medical Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, Berzelius väg 15 C, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. E-mail:


It has been hypothesised that oestrogen exposure in utero influences the risk for breast cancer in adult life. Although several studies report associations between breast cancer and maternal factors associated with birthweight of the offspring – a marker for antenatal oestriol exposure – little is known about the relations between maternal oestrogen levels and these factors per se. We therefore analysed the association between oestriol levels in 188 women in the 17th, 25th, 33rd and 37th weeks of pregnancy, and maternal age, prepregnancy weight, height and pregnancy weight gain.

Both maternal prepregnancy body mass index and maternal height were, after controlling for infant birthweight, independently and inversely associated with oestriol levels (P = 0.0021 and P = 0.0006 respectively). We found no association between maternal age or pregnancy weight gain and pregnancy oestriol levels. These findings suggest that the previously reported associations between maternal age and maternal pregnancy weight gain and the offspring’s risk of breast cancer are due to factors other than antenatal exposure to oestriol.

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