Antioxidants Don't Cut Risk of Preeclampsia, Perinatal Harm

Contrary to previous research, antioxidants were associated with an increased risk of maternal hypertension

WEDNESDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Supplementation with vitamins C and E during pregnancy does not reduce the risk of preeclampsia or perinatal complications and may even cause harm to the mother, according to a study in the April 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Alice R. Rumbold, Ph.D., of Women's and Children's Hospital in North Adelaide, Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of 1,877 women between 14 and 22 weeks of gestation who were assigned to daily supplementation with 1,000 mg of vitamin C and 400 IU of vitamin E, or a placebo, until delivery.

The researchers found no significant differences between the vitamin and placebo groups in the risk of preeclampsia (6 percent and 5 percent, respectively), death or serious outcomes in the infant (9.5 percent and 12.1 percent), or having an infant with a birth weight below the 10th percentile for gestational age (8.7 percent and 9.9 percent). Vitamin therapy was also associated with an increased risk of hospitalization of the woman for hypertension (relative risk, 1.54) and the use of antihypertensive therapy (relative risk, 1.67). "The cause of these unexpected adverse findings is unknown," and may be due to chance, the authors say.

"Given the scant evidence of benefit and the potential for harm, supplemental antioxidant therapy for the prevention of preeclampsia should be limited to women enrolled in randomized trials and should not be prescribed as part of routine practice," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

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