Research: RAYMAN and co-workers,

Listed in Issue 98


RAYMAN and co-workers, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford BU2 7XH, UK,, have found that the pregnancy disease pre-eclamspia is associated with low selenium status.


The trace element selenium is an antioxidant when incorporated into selenoproteins. In this study it was investigated whether low selenium status was associated with a greater risk of pre-eclampsia.


53 pre-eclamptic patients and 53 healthy pregnant women gave clippings of their toenails for selenium determination by neutron activation analysis.


Median toenail selenium concentrations in the pre-eclamptic women were significantly lower than in their matched controls (p = 0.001). Being in the bottom tertile of toenail selenium was associated with a 4.4-fold greater incidence of the condition. Within the pre-eclampsia group, lower selenium status was significantly associated with more severe expression of the disease.


This study raises the serious question whether a small increase in selenium intake might help prevent pre-eclampsia in susceptible women.


Rayman MP, Bode P, Redman CWG. Low selenium status is associated with the occurrence of the pregnancy disease preeclampsia in women from the United Kingdom. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 189 (5): 1343-1349, Nov 2003.

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