December 10, 2008

Study: Pregnant women should avoid statins

Pregnant women or those hoping to get pregnant should avoid using the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, scientists in Britain said.

A 2007 study examining the risk of congenital anomalies in children of pregnant women using statins suggest the detrimental effects of the drugs may be restricted to fat-soluble or lipophilic statins only.

However, University of Manchester researchers show that even water-soluble or hydrophilic statins, such as pravastatin, 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 individuals are often treated with statins to lower circulating cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, Dr. Melissa Westwood said in a statement.

The study, published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, found the fat-soluble statin, cerivastatin, affected the placenta resulting in reduced growth, but the researchers also found that pravastatin -- the water-soluble statin -- thought to be potentially compatible for use in pregnancy -- had the same detrimental effect.