Objective To study the effect of an antiatherogenic diet on maternal and cord blood concentrations of systemic biomarkers of endothelial cell activation, haemostasis and inflammation.
Design Single blinded randomised controlled clinical trial.
Setting Obstetric outpatient clinic and maternity unit of a university hospital in Norway.
Population Nonsmoking pregnant women aged 21–38 years carrying a single fetus and with no previous pregnancy-related complications.
Methods Subjects (n = 290) were randomised to continue their usual diet or to adopt a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol from gestational week 17–20 to birth. Soluble forms of cellular adhesion molecules, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) and haemostatic markers were measured at 17–20 weeks of gestation (baseline) and subsequently up to week 36. All the above, except CRP, were also measured in cord blood.
Main outcome measures Concentrations of maternal and fetal biomarkers and maternal CRP.
Results All biomarkers except CRP levels increased significantly during the study period in both the intervention and control groups. None of the maternal or fetal biomarkers were influenced by the intervention (P > 0.05) except for a tendency to lower concentrations of cord blood tissue plasminogen activator antigen in the intervention group compared with the control group, median (interquartile range) 5.4 ng/ml (3.1–7.7) versus 5.8 ng/ml (3.5–11.8), P = 0.05.
Conclusion An antiatherogenic diet in pregnancy did not significantly influence maternal or fetal blood concentrations of a range of biomarkers for inflammation. Thus, the previously reported effects of a cholesterol-lowering diet on maternal lipid profile and preterm delivery (<37 complete weeks of gestation) do not seem to involve changes in the systemic inflammatory responses of pregnancy.