A calcium supplement taken during pregnancy may reduce the severity and risk associated with preeclampsia in calcium-deficient women, according to a study recorded in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The Aug, 2006 issue of Alternative and Complementary Therapies reports that the double-blind study involved more than 8,300 pregnant women. Researches around the world, under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), recruited subjects for the study at antenatal centers in Argentina, Egypt, India, Peru, England, South Africa and Vietnam.
All of the women had normal blood pressure when they began the study; they were consuming less than 600 mg per day of calcium and they were recruited prior to gestational week 20. They were randomly divided into two groups with similar gestational ages and demographic characteristics. Half of the women were given a 1.5 gram calcium supplement per day to take for the duration of their pregnancies and the other half were given a placebo to take for the same period of time.
Preeclampsia incidence was not statistically significant between the placebo and treatment groups at the end of the study but the risk of eclampsia and severe gestational hypertension were significantly lower in the calcium-treated group. Severe preeclamptic complications, maternal morbidity and mortality, preterm delivery and early preterm delivery were also reduced in the women who took the supplement.
Researchers concluded that calcium did not prevent preeclampsia but reduced its severity, morbidity and neonatal mortality.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 194(3):639-649, 2006<