Listed in Issue 187


VILLAR and COLLEAGUES, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oxford Maternal and Perinatal Health Institute, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. set out to determine if vitamin C and E supplementation in high-risk pregnant women with low nutritional status reduces pre-eclampsia.



Multicentred, randomised, controlled, double-blinded trial conducted at antenatal care clinics and Hospitals in four countries. The population were pregnant women between 14 and 22 weeks' gestation. Randomized women received 1000 mg vitamin C and 400 iu of vitamin E or placebo daily until delivery. Main Outcome Measures: Pre-eclampsia, low birthweight, small for gestational age and perinatal death.


Six hundred and eighty-seven women were randomized to the vitamin group and 678 to the placebo group. Groups had similar gestational ages (18.1; SD 2.4 weeks), socio-economic, clinical and demographical characteristics and blood pressure at trial entry. Risk factors for eligibility were similar, except for multiple pregnancies: placebo group (14.7%), vitamins group (11.8%). Previous pre-eclampsia, or its complications, was the most common risk factor at entry (vitamins 41.6%, placebo 41.3%). Treatment compliance was 87% in the two groups and loss to follow-up was low (vitamins 2.0%, placebo 1.3%). Supplementation was not associated with a reduction of pre-eclampsia (RR: 1.0; 95% CI: 0.9-1.3), eclampsia (RR: 1.5; 95% CI: 0.3-8.9), gestational hypertension (RR: 1.2; 95% CI: 0.9-1.7), nor any other maternal outcome. Low birthweight (RR: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.8-1.1), small for gestational age (RR: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.8-1.1) and perinatal deaths (RR: 0.8; 95% CI: 0.6-1.2) were also unaffected.


Vitamins C and E at the doses used did not prevent pre-eclampsia in these high-risk women.


Villar J, Purwar M, Merialdi M, Zavaleta N, Thi Nhu Ngoc N, Anthony J, De Greeff A, Poston L, Shennan A, WHO Vitamin C and Vitamin E trial group. World Health Organisation multicentre randomised trial of supplementation with vitamins C and E among pregnant women at high risk for pre-eclampsia in populations of low nutritional status from developing countries. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 116(6): 780-8. May 2009. Comment in: BJOG. 2009 Sep;116(10):1416-7; PMID: 19691635].

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