Can I Take Anything to Prevent Pre-Eclampsia?

Many trials of different drugs and supplements have been carried out to try and prevent this disease.

Trial suggests halibut oil

Fish oil (halibut liver oil) in one trial has been suggested to marginally reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia. The study that demonstrated this dates back to 1946 and subsequent trials have not been as promising.

In addition, there are concerns about side effects with excessive supplementation with fish-oils (bleeding tendancy & fall in platelet count). Presently there are two multi-centre studies underway in New Zealand and Scandinavia to assess its usefulness.

Eat more protein?

Increased dietary protein has been suggested to reduce the incidence of pre-eclampsia, but review of the published literature by the World Health Organisation Expert Committee on Pregnancy and Lactation concluded that in the absence of any established deficiency, supplementation is unlikely to change a woman's chance of developing pre-eclampsia.

Calcium supplementation has also been suggested; indeed, summation of several smaller trials definitely pointed to a reduction in blood pressure complications in those who took calcium supplements.

What was needed was a large comparative study to confirm or refute this possible finding. In July 1997 in the New England Journal of Medicine a paper was published from the National Institutes of Health in the US. They enrolled almost 5000 women, half of whom received calcium supplements. Unfortunately, there was no difference in pre-eclampsia between the two groups.

Low-dose aspirin

A large trial of low-dose aspirin has confirmed that it has a place in prevention of pre-eclampsia. This multi-centre study which was published in 1994 demonstrated that the only group of women shown to benefit from aspirin were those deemed to be at risk of severe early pre-eclampsia - ie. those in whom it had occurred before. Aspirin made no difference to any other group treated.

Information may also be obtained from the Action on Pre-eclampsia UK group.

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