Preeclampsia, the development of high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy and its more severe complications such as eclampsia, can threaten the lives of both mother and child. While there is no therapy to prevent preeclampsia, a link to calcium deficiency has been suggested. In a study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers across the globe, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), investigated whether a calcium supplement could reduce the complications and mortality from this condition.
Over 8300 women with low dietary calcium (<600 mg/day, about half of that recommended during pregnancy) were selected for the study. The subjects were randomly divided into two groups that had similar gestational ages, demographic characteristics, and normal blood pressures before treatment started. Half were given 1.5g of a calcium supplement per day and half received a placebo.
While the incidence of preeclampsia was not statistically different in the supplemented women, eclampsia, other severe complications and severe gestational hypertension were significantly lower. Overall, the "severe preeclamptic complications index" and the "severe maternal morbidity and mortality index," including all severe conditions, were also reduced with calcium.
Pamela Poppalardo | EurekAlert!
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