BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Friday, 3 September, 1999, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Vitamins may reduce pregnancy danger
Pre-eclampsia is hard to detect
Pregnant women at risk of the potentially deadly condition pre-eclampsia appear to benefit from doses of vitamins C and E, research says.

The study, published in the Lancet, found that taking the supplements halved the chance of developing pre-eclampsia.

The condition involves high-blood pressure, and can interfere with the feeding of the unborn child through the placenta.

Between five and ten per cent of women develop pre-eclampsia. The risk is higher if the condition runs in the family, it is the first pregnancy, and if the mother is over 40 years old or has diabetes or existing high blood pressure.

If left untreated, it can cause internal bleeding, or even seizures (eclampsia).

Babies often delivered early

There are no direct treatments for the condition, and normally doctors take what steps they can to keep blood pressure down until it is possible to deliver the baby - often prematurely.

The study, carried out at hospitals in London, looked at 283 women known to be at high-risk of the condition.

Half were given 1000mg of vitamin C, and 400 IU of vitamin E a day, and compared with the other women, who received a placebo instead.

Pre-eclampsia happened in 17% of the placebo group, compared with only 8% of those in the vitamin group.

Overall, the levels of two chemicals which relate to pre-eclampsia were reduced by 21% in the group.

Although the report's authors said that they did not know why the vitamins should have such a pronounced effect, they suggested that, as powerful antioxidants, they may be mopping up free radicals which can damage the body and cause high blood pressure.

Professor Lucilla Poston, who co-ordinated the study, said: "We are very excited by the results of this trial and its implications.

"We hope it may lead to an effective treatments which will prevent the onset of this devastating illness and its consequences."

The study was funded by Tommy's Campaign, the pregnancy research charity.

Its chief executive Vivienne Creevey said: "The next step is a multi-centre clinical trial. This will establish the value of vitamin C and E supplements in all pregnant women."

The BBC's Karen Allen reports: "The next stage is to develop broader research"
See also:

28 Jul 99 | Health
Hormone clue to pregnancy danger
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories