Taking vitamins C or E during pregnancy will not reduce a woman's risk of experiencing pre-eclampsia, a Cochrane Systematic Review has concluded.
Pre-eclampsia can occur during pregnancy when a woman develops high blood pressure and tests show that protein is appearing in her urine. The situation can be dangerous to both her health and that of the developing baby. Indeed it is a major cause of death in women worldwide.
The cause of pre-eclampsia is unknown, but one theory suggests that it is triggered by free-radicals. In this case taking antioxidants could mop up these free-radicals and reduce the risk.
A team of Cochrane Researchers studied data from 10 trials that involved a total of 6,533 women who participated in studies assessing the effects of antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) during pregnancy. Their conclusion was that overall there was no reduction in the risk of pre-eclampsia with the use of antioxidant supplements. In addition, antioxidants did not help reduce the risk of many other health issues including having a pre-term delivery, delivering babies that had not grown well in the womb or infant death.
"Evidence does not currently support routine use of antioxidant supplements during pregnancy as a means of reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia or other serious problems," says lead author Dr Alice Rumbold, who works at the Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin, Australia.