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Thread: Routine cholesterol labs after weaning ?

  1. #1

    Default Routine cholesterol labs after weaning ?

    I know mom's cholesterol levels are normally elevated during nursing, but does anyone know the time frame AFTER weaning that levels have returned to normal - or when it's rather suggested to check? I've heard 3 mo.. 6 mo..


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Routine cholesterol labs after weaning ?

    I'd never heard this before, so I did a little bit of research. I found this article about the effects of nursing on cholesterol levels:

    J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1985 Mar;60(3):542-7.

    Effect of postpartum lactation on lipoprotein lipids and apoproteins.

    Knopp RH, Walden CE, Wahl PW, Bergelin R, Chapman M, Irvine S, Albers JJ.

    To determine if postpartum lactation alters plasma lipoprotein lipid and apoprotein concentrations and composition, we studied 56 overnight fasting lactating and 16 nonlactating women approximately 6 weeks postpartum. Postpartum results are presented as absolute concentrations and as the difference from antepartum values determined at 36 weeks gestation. Antepartum lipoprotein lipid and apoprotein concentrations were generally not different in the 2 groups, with the single exception of whole plasma and low density lipoprotein (LDL) apoprotein (apo) B (probably a chance difference). When expressed as the antepartum and postpartum difference, the lactating and nonlactating groups were indistinguishable in very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and LDL triglyceride, cholesterol, phospholipid, and apo B concentrations. However, lactating women had higher high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, phospholipid, apo A-I, and apo A-II concentrations than nonlactating women when results were expressed as differences from antepartum values or as absolute values. HDL triglyceride concentrations were not significantly different between lactating and nonlactating women by either analysis. There was no significant effect of lactation on VLDL or LDL composition, but there was a significant increase in the percent cholesterol content in HDL. We hypothesize that the increase in HDL constituents in lactation is generated in part by increased catabolism of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins by the lactating breast."

    Usually if you have a clinical lipid profile done, it will be broken down into HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. According to this paper, the HDL levels are higher. If you just have a total cholesterol done, this may make it look like you have "high" cholesterol. However, HDL is the "good" cholesterol, so if you have it broken down into categories, this will be apparent.

    Interestingly, another study (Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Mar;109(3):729-38. Lactation and changes in maternal metabolic risk factors. Gunderson EP, Lewis CE, Wei GS, Whitmer RA, Quesenberry CP, Sidney S.) found that among women who had previously been pregnant and lactated, there was less of an increase in LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) compared to women who had been pregnant and did not lactate. Furthermore, women who nursed for more than 3 months later had less of a decrease in HDL than women who nursed for less than three months. That is, nursing, particularly nursing for more than three months, is good for your future cholesterol levels!

    I didn't do a completely exhaustive search, but the only paper I could find that directly answers your question was a study in rats, in which everything normalized within 3 weeks of weaning.

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