Many people believe that taking high doses of folic acid during pregnancy can protect a woman against preeclampsia, one of the most serious and deadliest pregnancy complications. However, a new study conducted by Ottawa-based researchers proves that folic acid does not prevent high-risk women from developing this condition.
Folic acid does not protect against preeclampsia
The results of the study, which were published on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, clearly contradict observational studies that were made in the past. This large-scale randomized controlled trial, which was conducted for the first time, sheds more light on the risks and benefits of using high doses of folic acid during pregnancy.
What is preeclampsia?
According to Dr. Mark Walker, a chief of obstetrics, gynecology and newborn care at The Ottawa Hospital and a lead author of the study, eight women out of 100,000 in Canada die due to pregnancy complications and two of these eight die from preeclampsia. This condition, characterized by a high blood pressure, usually develops in women with pre-existing high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes. The only way to stop it is to deliver the baby, which in most cases happens prematurely.
The usage of folic acid during the pregnancy
The prevention of preeclampsia is not the only reason as to why taking folic acid is widespread amongst pregnant women. It is recommended to take low doses of this vitamin in order to prevent neural tube birth defects, while women at high risk are expected to take high doses only for the first trimester.
The scientists will now pay close attention to the children born to the mothers that took part in the study and used high doses of folic acid, to see if their health was affected by excessive usage of this vitamin.
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