Prolactin in Pregnancies Affected by Pre-Existing Maternal Metabolic Conditions: A Systematic Review

Kate Rassie, Rinky Giri, Anju E. Joham, Helena Teede, Aya Mousa

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Women affected by maternal pregestational diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2) or by polycystic ovary syndrome experience an increased risk of pregnancy complications, as well as suboptimal lactation outcomes. The hormone prolactin plays important roles in pregnancy and postpartum, both as a metabolic and lactogenic hormone. We aimed to explore, through a systematic review, the relationship between pregestational maternal metabolic conditions and prolactin levels in pregnancy and postpartum. MEDLINE via OVID, CINAHL Plus, and Embase were searched from inception to 9 May 2022. Eligible studies included women who were pregnant or up to 12 months postpartum and had a pre-existing diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus or polycystic ovary syndrome; with reporting of at least one endogenous maternal serum prolactin level during this time. Two independent reviewers extracted the data. Eleven studies met the eligibility criteria. The studies were too diverse and heterogeneous to enable meta-analysis. Overall, prolactin levels appeared to be lower in pregnancies affected by type 1 diabetes mellitus. There was little data in polycystic ovary syndrome or type 2 diabetes pregnancy, but prolactin increment across pregnancy in polycystic ovary syndrome emerged as an area for future study. During postpartum, lactation difficulties in women with metabolic disease present before pregnancy are well-described, but the relationship to prolactin remains unclear. Overall, preliminary evidence suggests that pre-existing maternal metabolic disease may alter prolactin dynamics in pregnancy and postpartum. Further well-designed studies in modern cohorts, with standardised collection and serial sampling across pregnancy and postpartum, are required to clarify these associations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2840
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • diabetes mellitus type 1
  • diabetes mellitus type 2
  • lactation
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • postpartum period
  • pregnancy
  • prolactin

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