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Study Shows Calcium Doesn't Reduce PIH/Eclampsia

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From: C-reuters@clari.net (Reuters)
Subject: Calcium pills no aid to some abnormal pregnancies
Organization: Copyright 1997 by Reuters
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 16:21:17 PDT
BOSTON (Reuter) - A study at five U.S. medical centers has concluded that taking calcium pills does not help a pregnant woman avoid the potentially dangerous rise in blood pressure and fluid retention known as pre-eclampsia.

The test of 4,589 otherwise healthy pregnant women, described in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, was done because 13 other studies have suggested that extra calcium may be able to ward off pre-eclampsia, which appears in 5-to-7 percent of pregnancies and is a leading cause of maternal death throughout the world.

But the other studies have been inconclusive. Many did not include a control or placebo group and others were done in countries where women fail to get enough calcium in their normal diet, thereby skewing the results.

In the latest study, a team led by Dr. Richard J. Levine of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development gave the women either calcium tablets or placebo tablets during the second half of their pregnancy.

The researchers concluded that the volunteers who took the calcium supplements were just as likely to develop pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure as those receiving placebos.

They also found the extra calcium did not reduce the number of premature deliveries or abnormally small babies and the pills did not reduce the number of miscarriages or deaths among newborns.

Levine and his colleagues said the number of volunteers in this study was more than double the number of women involved in past research, which makes the results more authoritative.

Another reason why the new study is an improvement on previous research, they said, is that in this case ``the dose of calcium administered equaled the highest in previous studies.''

``Clearly, women need some calcium during pregnancy,'' Levine said. ``But in light of the results of our study, the high doses of calcium thought to prevent pre-eclampsia at best provide no apparent benefit, and at worst, could cause complications in certain high-risk women.''

But a group of doctors from the Calcium Information Center, a research group funded in part by SmithKline Beecham, Plc. disputed Levine's findings and in a press release noted calcium remains an essential nutrient for pregnant and lactating women.

Dr. David McCarron of the Oregon Health Sciences University said Levine's study ``is by no means the final verdict on calcium's beneficial effects on pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia...this study can't negate the fact that calcium is critical to a health pregnancy and now we know, unequivocally, that calcium supplements are safe.''

SmithKline Beecham is the maker of Tums, an antacid that is made with calcium.

This Web page is referenced from other pages containing related information about Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension (PIH) and Prenatal Nutrition


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