LONDON, Mar 31 (Reuters) High doses of vitamin supplements do not reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia in women who have a high risk of the pregnancy complication, scientists said today.
Pre-eclampsia, which causes dangerously high blood pressure, occurs in 2-3 percent of pregnancies.
Earlier research had suggested that high dose supplements of vitamin C and E could reduce the odds of the problem. But scientists at King's College in London said their study showed they did not prevent it.
''Our findings of an increase in low birth-weight and an increased need for treatment for pre-eclampsia suggest that these high doses of vitamin C&E do not work in preventing pre-eclampsia,'' said Professor Lucilla Poston.
''It is also important to add that although the babies were born slightly smaller, the likely affect on their long-term health would be negligible,'' she added in a statement.
The researchers studied the impact of high dose vitamins on 2,400 women in England who had a high risk of pre-eclampsia.
Half of the women received 1000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C and 400 IU (international units) of vitamin E or a placebo each day during the second trimester of their pregnancy.
The research was published online by The Lancet medical journal.
The incidence of pre-eclampsia was similar in both groups but more low birth-weight babies were born to women taking the supplements and they were more likely to need medication to control the condition.
Women have a higher risk of suffering from pre-eclampsia if they have suffered from it before or if they have diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity or renal disease.
Dangerously high blood pressure, fluid retention and protein in the urine are symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It can lead to eclampsia, convulsions or fits, which endangers the lives of both mother and child.
REUTERS SK RN0432