Can hair steroids predict pregnancy longevity?

Anat Schonblum, Liat Arnon, Eyal Ravid, Liat Salzer, Eran Hadar, Israel Meizner, Arnon Wiznitzer, Aron Weller, Lee Koren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maintaining pregnancy to term is important as preterm delivery is a risk factor for impaired infant development, which may have negative long-term consequences. Therefore, developing biomarkers that can predict pregnancy longevity during early gestation is essential for the prevention of preterm birth. Here we explored whether maternal hair testosterone and cortisol, representing the pre-conception and first trimester periods respectively, may be used to predict pregnancy longevity. We recruited 125 pregnant women that contributed hair samples and answered a personal information questionnaire that included pre-conception smoking. We quantified steroids using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. Gestational age at delivery was obtained from medical records. We used General Linear Models to predict gestation length. The model that included first trimester cortisol, pre-conception smoking, pre-conception testosterone and the interaction between first trimester cortisol and pre-conception smoking predicted 13% of the variance in gestation length (R2 = 0.130; n = 105; p = 0.007). First trimester cortisol was the best predictor of gestational length. Women with high levels of cortisol in their first trimester had an increased probability of a full-term delivery. The effect of cortisol was especially pronounced in smokers (ß = 1.69), compared to non-smokers (ß = 0.45). Pre-conception testosterone also contributed to the model. Our study suggests that hair steroids may be used to predict pregnancy longevity, together with other contributing factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-415
Number of pages6
JournalReproductive Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Cortisol
  • Hair-testing
  • Smoking
  • Term delivery
  • Testosterone


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