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Vitamin D Supplementation in Early Pregnancy May Help Prevent Preeclampsia

Posted Sep 27 2007 12:00am


In newly published research, scientists evaluated data and blood samples taken from women and newborns between 1997 and 2001 enrolled in a study designed to examine risk factors for preeclampsia. This serious complication of pregnancy is marked by elevated blood pressure and edema (swelling) of the hands and feet, and is a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and neonatal complications including death.

The results of the study show that a maternal vitamin D deficiency early in pregnancy is a strong, independent risk factor for preeclampsia. This increase risk continued even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as race, ethnicity and pre-pregnancy body weight. Another concern was the fact that many of the women were taking prenatal vitamins, which typically contain 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D.

“Even a small decline in vitamin D concentration more than doubled the risk of preeclampsia,” noted James M. Roberts, M.D., senior author of the study. “And since newborn’s vitamin D stores are completely reliant on vitamin D from the mother, low vitamin levels also were observed in the umbilical cord blood of newborns from mothers with preeclampsia.”

The researchers concluded that maternal vitamin D deficiency may be an independent risk factor for preeclampsia and vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored for preventing preeclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being.

Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology & Metabolism September 2007, Vol 92, No.9:3517-22.

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