Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Can Vitamins Prevent Preeclampsia? It's Too Early to Tell

WebMD Health News

March 10, 2000 (Eugene, Ore.) -- Despite recent research suggesting that antioxidants might play a role in preventing preeclampsia, experts say that pregnant women shouldn't start taking megadoses of vitamins C and E in hopes of warding off the condition. Preeclampsia is one of the major causes of premature births and of deaths and illness in pregnant women and their babies.

"We have no idea whether high-dose antioxidants are safe for the baby," says James M. Roberts, MD. "They probably are, but this really needs to be tested in a controlled setting first." Roberts is professor and vice chairman for research in the departments of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive disease, director of the Magee-Womens Research Institute, and L.C. Hilliard Hillman chairman of women's and infants' health research at the University of Pittsburgh. Women should consult their doctors before taking vitamins in doses exceeding those of prenatal vitamins.

Roberts is an expert in complicated pregnancies. His extensive review of what is known and not known about preeclampsia was published in the February issue of Seminars in Perinatology.

Women with preeclampsia experience a sudden rise in blood pressure, too much weight gain, severe headaches, visual disturbances, protein in their urine, and a buildup of fluids in their tissues. Because some of these symptoms can occur in normal pregnancy, it takes evaluation by a physician to confirm that a woman has the condition. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important because not only can women with preeclampsia get very sick, but their fetuses can grow poorly. Many infants are delivered prematurely when the mother's condition worsens.

Though preeclampsia's cause is unknown, experts speculate that some of its effects are due to an abnormal implantation of the placenta into the uterine wall and inadequate blood flow between the uterus, placenta, and fetus.

Many recent studies suggest that an inadequate placental blood supply starts a process called oxidative stress, which results in problems throughout the mother's blood vessels.

"If this theory is correct, and oxidative stress in fact is responsible for the disease, then there is a good chance you could prevent it by using antioxidant therapy, such as vitamins C and E," Roberts says. One small English study reported a decline in cases of the disease in women who used this therapy.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy