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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

September-03-99

Study Vitamins "Dramatically Decrease" Pre-Eclampsia

A study conducted by researchers at Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in London concludes that daily doses of vitamins C and E may greatly reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia, a condition that occurs among pregnant women and is a leading cause of maternal mortality and premature births.

Experts estimate that pre-eclampsia kills as many at 75,000 worldwide each year and occurs in as many as 10% of all pregnancies. Warning signs that a woman may be pre-eclamptic include increased blood pressure, swelling in the face and ankles, and protein in the urine. In pre-eclamptic women, the placenta does not develop normally, and doctors are unsure why.

In pre-eclamptic women, the placenta and white blood cells produce free radicals, and researchers have hypothesized that these free radicals might contribute to women's blood pressure by attacking blood vessel cells. "We believe the women are running out of enough vitamins to mop up the free radicals," explained the study's co-coordinator, Professor Lucilla Poston. Since vitamin C and E are anti-oxidants, researchers speculated that they might ward off the destructive effects caused by free radicals.

The study included women who had a high likelihood of developing pre-eclampsia because they had pre-eclampsia in a previous pregnancy or for other reasons. Half the women received supplements of vitamins C and E and the other half received a placebo.

Among the group that received the vitamins, only 8% became pre-eclamptic, compared to 17% in the group that received the placebo. Those who received vitamins also had less blood vessel damage and placental disease, two symptoms of pre-eclampsia. Researchers hope to test their current findings in a larger, international study

Media Resources: U.S. Newswire - September 3, 1999


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