Vitamin C No Help for Preeclampsia
Vitamins C and E Offer No Protection Against Pregnancy-Related High Blood Pressure Disorders, Study Finds
WebMD News Archive
April 8, 2010 -- Taking high doses of vitamins C and E does not protect
against a common and potentially fatal high blood pressure disorder during
pregnancy, a large, government study confirms.
More than 10,000 pregnant women took part in the National Institutes of
Health-funded trial, designed to determine if average-risk women could lower
their risk of developing preeclampsia by taking vitamin C and E supplements
starting early in pregnancy.
Several small studies reported in the 1990s suggested a role for vitamin C
and E in the prevention of preeclampsia and other pregnancy-related high blood
pressure disorders, but the large trial failed to show any benefit.
The findings appear in the April 8 issue of the New England Journal of
“The study results effectively rule out vitamin C and E supplements as a
means to prevent the hypertensive disorders during pregnancy,” Alan Guttmacher,
MD, of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD),
says in a news release.
Preeclampsia Endangers Mother, Baby
Occurring in between 5% and 8% of pregnancies, preeclampsia is characterized
by dangerously high increases in blood pressure coupled with a rise in protein
in the urine indicative of kidney stress.
The condition typically occurs after the 20th week of pregnancy, but it can
Preeclampsia affects the placenta, and it is a leading cause of childbirth
complications, including low-birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth.
It is also the second leading cause of pregnancy-related maternal deaths in
the U.S., according to National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which
co-funded the study with NICHD.
The cure for preeclampsia is delivery, and there is no proven way to prevent
The causes of pregnancy-related hypertension are poorly understood, but one
theory suggests that damage from molecules known as free radicals plays a role.
Free radicals occur as a byproduct when the body uses oxygen.
Antioxidants like vitamins C and E interfere with free radicals and are
thought to reduce free radical damage.
The Study Findings
In the newly published study, all the enrolled women were delivering for the