Multivitamin use lowers preeclampsia risk

High blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia) can result in serious complications for the mother and child. Results from a new study show that regular use of a multivitamin supplement in the months before and during pregnancy may reduce the risk of preeclampsia by as much as 71%.

Lean women who used multivitamins before and during their pregnancies reduced the risk of preeclampsia, a complication of pregnancy characterized by elevated blood pressure, swelling of the extremities and protein in the urine. If untreated, the condition can progress to eclampsia, which can lead to seizures, coma, and the death of the mother or child.

The study involved 1,835 pregnant women enrolled in the Pregnancy Exposures and Preeclampsia Prevention Study. All women were at less than 16 weeks’ gestation and were asked whether they regularly used multivitamins or prenatal vitamins in the past six months. Women that reported using a multivitamin or prenatal during the previous six months had a 45 percent lower risk of preeclampsia than non-users. The reduction in risk was more significant among lean women. When lean women were analyzed separately, those who used multivitamins had a 71 percent lower risk of preeclampsia than nonusers.

These results suggest that regular use of a multivitamin supplement in the months before and during pregnancy may help to prevent preeclampsia, particularly among lean women.

Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Jun 13; [Epub ahead of print]

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