Pittsburgh, July 26 Women who are considering becoming pregnant may significantly reduce their risk of developing a common life-threatening complication called preeclampsia by taking a multivitamin supplement regularly three months before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy. This finding is being reported in a University of Pittsburgh study available online now through an "advance access" feature of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The paper is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 1 print issue of the journal.
Overall, women who used multivitamins regularly showed a 45 percent reduction in preeclampsia risk, according to the study. However, results were even more remarkable for women who were not overweight prior to pregnancy.
"Our data show that women who are not overweight before pregnancy and who used multivitamins at least once a week before conception and in the first three months of pregnancy reduced their risk of preeclampsia by a striking 72 percent compared to those who didn't take a multivitamin during this time period," said Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH). "At this time, multivitamin use makes little apparent difference in preeclampsia rates for women who are overweight before pregnancy. Even so, the results suggest that regular multivitamin use in the pre-pregnancy period may help to prevent preeclampsia."
Also known as toxemia, preeclampsia affects about 7 percent of first pregnancies and is a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and fetal death. Signs of preeclampsia include high blood pressure, protein in the urine and swelling of the hands and feet. Untreated, the condition may progress to the far more serious eclampsia, which can lead to seizures, coma and death.
Preeclampsia is more prevalent in the developing world, where it accounts for up to 80 percent of
Contact: Michele Baum
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center