Vitamins not effective in preventing preeclampsia

My wife is careful with what she puts in her body, never more so than during her pregnancies. But she doesn’t like to take medications unless is absolutely necessary and then for as short a period of time as possible.

So, for women like my wife, news that heavy doses of Vitamin C and Vitamin E don’t prevent preeclampsia – a dangerous rise in blood pressure late in pregnancy – could provide some guidance.

Here’s a brief piece by my colleague Marie McCullough that will appear in Monday’s Health & Science section:

High doses of Vitamins C and E do not prevent preeclampsia, the potentially dangerous high blood pressure that some women develop late in pregnancy.

Scientists have theorized that oxidative stress — an abundance of cell-damaging molecules — may be involved in preeclampsia, and that antioxidant vitamins such as C and E might help.

But a national clinical trial of almost 10,000 women, led by the University of Pittsburgh, found the vitamins did not reduce the condition or resulting complications such as fetal growth problems. Preeclampsia developed in about 7 percent of women who took dummy pills, and 7 percent who took 1,000 milligrams of Vitamin C and 400 IU of Vitamin E. Those doses, which were started by the 16th week of pregnancy, were far higher than in prenatal vitamins.

Previous studies have shown a similar lack of effectiveness, so the new study, published in last week’s New England Journal of Medicine, dashes hopes for C and E supplements.