Background: Maternal circulating cortisol and 24-h urinary free cortisol levels are up to three times higher in third trimester pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women. Maternal cortisol status could be associated with offspring sex, maternal PCOS and testosterone levels.
Aims: To determine predictors of maternal serum (S) and urinary (U) cortisol and cortisone levels during 3rd trimester and to examine associations between maternal cortisol status, offspring sex, and maternal PCOS status.
Methods: The study is part of the prospective Odense Child Cohort. This study cohort included 1489 women (PCOS, n=145 and controls, n=1,344). Fasting morning S-cortisol and 24h U-cortisol/U-cortisone (24h U-C/C) were collected at gestational week 28 and measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: Maternal S-cortisol levels were significantly higher in women pregnant with girls (n=702) vs. boys (n=787): 833 (643; 1,077) vs. 799 (588; 1,084) nmol/L, P=0.014. In multiple regression analyses, maternal S-cortisol was positively associated with female offspring, maternal testosterone levels and inversely associated with maternal age and parity. When women were divided according to PCOS status, 24h U-cortisone was higher (467 (334; 652) vs. 415 (286; 604) nmol/24 h) and 24h U-C/C was lower in women with PCOS compared to controls.
Conclusions: Maternal 3rd trimester S-cortisol levels were positively associated with female offspring and circulating testosterone levels. Cortisol metabolism was higher in women with PCOS vs. controls.
18 - 21 May 2019
European Society of Endocrinology