Cholesterol drugs ‘lower risk of heart disease in later…
– Statins are prescribed to help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease
– Giving the drugs to pregnant women could protect their baby’s heart
– Babies exposed to excessive stress hormones in the womb are at greater risk of being born underweight, and suffering heart disease in later life
– Experts say statins can protect against negative effect of stress in womb Statins could protect the hearts of babies in the womb, from the adverse effects of their mother’s stress, new research today reveals.
The widely-prescribed drugs, used to lower cholesterol, help counteract the negative impact of stress hormones on fetal growth and heart development, scientists discovered. They say the therapy could lower the chances of babies being born underweight, and reduce their risk of health problems in later life, including heart disease. The findings, noted in mice, should prompt further studies to assess the long-term effects of statins in pregnancy.
But, the drugs are already used occasionally in pregnant women and should be suitable for clinical trials, researchers said. Professor Megan Holmes, from the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘These are very exciting results suggesting that there may finally be a potential therapy for women whose placenta is unable to maintain the normal growth of her baby. ‘At present there is no treatment and babies may be born prematurely or small, and will be at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even psychiatric disorders later in life. ‘Although more work needs to be done to show statins are safe in human pregnancy, these results show a new way forward for the major unmet need of fetal growth retardation.’
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