Women at elevated risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially deadly condition, who take folic acid supplements during pregnancy can’t reduce the risks, according to the Canadian researchers that headed an international study. The new research debunked the long-held belief that folic acid supplements during pregnancy have a defensive role in pre-eclampsia.
“All women should take folic acid for at least three months prior to conception. I think it’s safe and efficacious to take 0.4 to 1 milligram of folic acid in a multivitamin throughout the pregnancy. However, those women who are at risk for pre-eclampsia, there is no benefit to being on a high dose of folic acid,” explained Dr. Mark Walker of the University of Ottawa Walker and chief of Obstetrics & Gynecology section at the Ottawa Hospital.
Pre-eclampsia is a condition triggered by hypertension which occurs due to the pregnancy itself, and it is the second-leading cause of maternal death in Canada as it is causing venous blood clots in the lungs.
Pre-Eclampsia can’t be overcome with folic acids supplement, Canadian researchers revealed, debunking a long-lasting belief
Annually, about 80,000 pregnant women around the world die from pre-eclampsia. In Canada, this condition is the second-leading cause of perinatal mortality after pre-term birth, so “it’s a big contributor to stillbirth as well as neonatal death.”
“In the majority of cases, we need to deliver the baby to save the mother’s life. If that’s at 37 weeks, it’s not such a problem. But if it’s at 26 or 28 weeks, it is a huge issue,” said Dr. Walker.
The study, conducted between 2011 and 2016 on 2,300 pregnant women at risk for pre-eclampsia revealed that folic acid supplements are useless against pre-eclampsia.
“What we found was there was absolutely no difference between the group treated with high-dose folic acid and the placebo. Both groups had a pre-eclampsia rate around 14 percent,” stated Dr. Walker.
“We plan a couple of more trials, and we’re not going to rest until we’ve answered this question,” Walker added.