Preconception leptin levels and pregnancy outcomes: A prospective cohort study

Torie C. Plowden, Shvetha M. Zarek, Saima Rafique, Lindsey A. Sjaarda, Enrique F. Schisterman, Robert M. Silver, Edwina H. Yeung, Rose Radin, Stefanie N. Hinkle, Noya Galai, Sunni L. Mumford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Obesity has become a major, worldwide public health issue and is associated with a greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Leptin, a hormone produced by adipocytes, is elevated in individuals with obesity and may mediate the association between obesity and pregnancy outcomes. Though leptin levels during pregnancy have been associated with pregnancy outcomes, less is understood regarding preconception levels. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate associations between preconception leptin levels and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Methods: This was a prospective cohort study nested within a large randomized controlled trial conducted at four medical centres in the United States. A total of 1078 women completed the parent study; this analysis involved women who became pregnant during that study (n = 776). Patients were healthy women, ages 18 to 40, attempting to conceive, with 1 to 2 prior pregnancy losses. Participants were followed for less than or equal to 6 cycles while trying to conceive and throughout pregnancy if they conceived. Preconception leptin concentrations were measured in serum collected at baseline then categorized by tertiles (using the lowest as reference group). Weighted log-binomial regression estimated risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for pregnancy loss, preterm delivery (PTD), gestational diabetes (GDM), and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, adjusting for age, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), and body mass index (BMI). Results: The mean (SD) BMI in this cohort was 25.4 ± 6.0. GDM (RR 18.37; 95% CI, 2.39-141.55) and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (RR 2.35; 95% CI, 1.20-4.61) risks were higher among women in the high tertile after adjusting for age and WHR. The associated risk persisted when adjusting for BMI for GDM but was attenuated for hypertensive disorders in pregnancy. Leptin levels were not associated with risk of pregnancy loss or PTD. Conclusions: Women with higher baseline preconception leptin levels had a higher likelihood of experiencing some adverse pregnancy outcomes including GDM and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. These findings warrant further evaluation, especially in light of the association between leptin and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalObesity Science and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Published 2019. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Obesity Science & Practice published by World Obesity and The Obesity Society and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • gestational diabetes
  • leptin
  • pre-eclampsia
  • pregnancy outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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