Calcium supplementation to prevent hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

Author

Belizan JM, Villar J, Gonzalez L, Campodonico L, Bergel E

Date

14/11/1991

Journal

N Engl J Med

Abstract

BACKGROUND. Calcium supplementation has been reported to reduce blood pressure in pregnant and nonpregnant women. We undertook this prospective study to determine the effect of calcium supplementation on the incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (gestational hypertension and preeclampsia) and to determine the value of urinary calcium levels as a predictor of the response. METHODS. We studied 1194 nulliparous women who were in the 20th week of gestation at the beginning of the study. The women were randomly assigned to receive 2 g per day of elemental calcium in the form of calcium carbonate (593 women) or placebo (601 women). Urinary excretion of calcium and creatinine was measured before calcium supplementation was begun. The women were followed to the end of their pregnancies, and the incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy was determined. RESULTS. The rates of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy were lower in the calcium group than in the placebo group (9.8 percent vs. 14.8 percent; odds ratio, 0.63; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.44 to 0.90). The risk of these disorders was lower at all times during gestation, particularly after the 28th week of gestation (P = 0.01 by life-table analysis), in the calcium group than in the placebo group, and the risk of both gestational hypertension and preeclampsia was also lower in the calcium group. Among the women who had low ratios of urinary calcium to urinary creatinine (less than or equal to 0.62 mmol per millimole) during the 20th week of gestation, those in the calcium group had a lower risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (odds ratio, 0.56; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.29 to 1.09) and less of an increase in diastolic and systolic blood pressure than the placebo group. The pattern of response was similar among the women who had a high ratio of urinary calcium to urinary creatinine during the 20th week of gestation, but the differences were smaller. CONCLUSIONS. Pregnant women who receive calcium supplementation after the 20th week of pregnancy have a reduced risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy.