Supplementation with vitamins C and E may be beneficial in the prevention of pre-eclampsia, a new study reveals.

Researchers at St Thomas’ Hospital, London identified 283 women who were at increased risk of developing the disorder and randomly assigned them to receive either 1000 mg per day of vitamin C, 400 international units of vitamin E or a placebo during the second half of their pregnancies.

Blood test and Doppler ultrasound were used to determine biophysical changes which are common in pre-eclampsia. Among the 187 women considered at risk of developing pre-clampsia, supplementation with vitamins C and E cut the pre-eclampsia rate by more than half 8 per cent compared to 17 per cent in the placebo group.

Pre-eclampsia is thought to affect around 15 per cent of pregnant women. The authors speculate that vitamins C and E work synergistically to counter the free radical damage which is, in part, implicated in pre-eclampsia. Unlike conventional drug treatments, neither vitamin C or E has been found to have any risks for mother or baby. (Lancet, 1999; 354: 810-16)

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