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Vitamins C, E May Not Cut Preeclampsia

Study Included Healthy Pregnant Women Taking Vitamin C, E Supplements

Study's Results continued...

Preeclampsia developed in 6% of the women in the vitamin group and 5% of the placebo group. Infants died or had serious complications in 9.5% of the vitamin group, compared with about 12% of the placebo group. Babies were at low weight for their gestational age for about 9% of the vitamin group and nearly 10% of the placebo group.

Those differences were small enough that they could have been due to chance, the study shows.

Fewer babies in the vitamin group had respiratory distress syndrome or needed surfactant, which helps in breathing. That finding didn't appear to be due to chance.

After giving birth, women in the vitamin group had an increased risk of being hospitalized for high blood pressureor being prescribed drugs to tame high blood pressure. However, those findings may have been due to chance, the researchers note.

Diet May Have Mattered

Before the study, most participants got more vitamin C and vitamin E from their diets than the recommended daily amount of those vitamins.

"Thus, the results cannot be generalized to women with low dietary intakes of antioxidants," write Rumbold and colleagues.

An earlier study showed that supplementation with vitamins C and E "was beneficial for women at high risk of preeclampsia," Rumbold's team writes. But Rumbold's study didn't focus on high-risk women.

Other studies on the topic are under way in the U.S. and overseas, the researchers note.

Second Opinion

Some current studies on antioxidant supplements and preeclampsia are being conducted in developing nations.

In those countries, "the intake of antioxidants may be less and the benefit of supplementation may be greater than in developed nations," write editorialists Arun Jeyabalan, MD, and Steve Caritis, MD. Jeyabalan and Caritis work in Pittsburgh at the maternal-fetal medicine division of Magee-Womens Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh.

Until more data are available, "supplemental antioxidant therapy for the prevention of preeclampsia should be limited to women enrolled in randomized trials and should not be prescribed as part of routine practice," the editorial states.

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