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Vitamins C, E May Not Cut Preeclampsia

Study Included Healthy Pregnant Women Taking Vitamin C, E Supplements

Vitamin Study continued...

Rumbold's team randomly assigned roughly half of the women to the vitamin group. The researchers gave those women daily supplements totaling 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate).

No one knew who got the vitamins and who got the placebo. Either way, the women were told to swallow two of the pills in the morning and two in the evening.

Other antioxidant supplements were off limits during the study. But the women were allowed to take daily multivitamins containing up to 200 milligrams of vitamin C or 50 international units of vitamin E.

Study's Results

Most women didn't develop preeclampsiaor other problems covered in the study.

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.

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