Preliminary Evidence Suggests Vitamin C and Vitamin E May Be Protective in Women Prone to Preeclampsia
A recent randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the September 4th edition of Lancet examined the effects of a high dose combination of vitamins C and E on pregnant women at risk for the potentially serious complication known as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-induced sydrome which involves the development of hypertension, proteinuria(protein in the urine) and generalized swelling, which,if left untreated, can lead to fetal mortality and maternal morbidity.
Researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St. Thomas' Hospital in London enrolled 283 women at risk for developing preeclampsia between 16 and 22 weeks' gestation to receive either placebo or a high dose regimen of vitamins C and E. The women were subsequently followed to term and monitored for signs and symptoms of preeclampsia.
Among the 142 women who received placebo, 24 (17%) developed preeclampsia, whereas in the vitamin group only 11 of 141 (8%) developed the condition. Statistical analysis based on these figures demonstrated a significant 61% relative risk reduction for preeclampsia in the vitamin group.
This study demonstrates promise for the role of high dose vitamin C and E in the prevention of preeclampsia, but it is important to realize that the number of patients included in this study was small and these results cannot yet be universally applied to women who are prone to developing the condition. In addition, this study did not look at the fetal risk associated with higher than normal maternal ingestion of vitamins. As a result, it is imperative to understand that women at risk for preeclampsia should not indiscriminantly take high doses of vitamin C or E based solely on this report. This is an area of research which is promising and should be followed until larger scale trials which examine the effects on both the mother and the child have been completed.