I came across two articles on pregnancy concerning pre-eclampsia today.  The articles are related to each other in that they both talk about something called pre-eclampsia.  Pre-eclampsia or preeclampsia is defined as “high blood pressure and excess protein in the urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy in a woman who previously had normal blood pressure” according to the Mayo Clinic.  Problems with pre-eclampsia arise because there is no Western medical way to remedy the situation other than delivering the baby.

Typical signs/symptoms of pre-eclampsia include:  high blood pressure, protein in the urine, headaches, vision changes, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.  If you have any combination of these symptoms during your pregnancy, please visit your physician to discuss any concerns about pre-eclampsia.

The first article discussed a new study showing a predictable test for pre-eclampsia.  There currently exists a proteinuria test done that can tell doctors if there is a chance for pre-eclampsia.  Experts in the field say that the proteinuria test does not show enough correlation between protein in the urine and pre-eclampsia to be a valuable marker.  (Example: Proteinuria as a predictor of complications of pre-eclampsia, By Hofmeyr and Belfort)  But now, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have been able to look at a different marker in the urine, called podocytes, which are shed from the kidneys in patients that develop pre-eclampsia during their pregnancy.  Although this was a small study, there are promising results from the small clinical study, showing that all 15 of the women that tested positive for podocytes in their urine developed pre-eclampsia.

The second article, also from BBC news, talks about an amino acid, called L-arginine, that could help reduce the chance for pre-eclampsia when taken with antioxidant supplements.  The study was done on 228 women and basically showed some correlation between the intake of L-arginine with antioxidants and reduction of pre-eclampsia.  Two concerns about the information in this article are:  What is a food bar?  Why did 30% of the control group have pre-eclampsia when 5-10% would be normal?

Otherwise, it is probably a good idea in general to take a vitamin/mineral supplement during pregnancy, such as a prenatal vitamin.  But, don’t forget that there is also a good reason for eating healthy, as vitamins and minerals can be absorbed much more easily through food than through pills.  Some foods high in L-arginine are:  peanuts, almonds, walnuts, other nuts, salmon, shrimp.

If you are looking for natural, alternative ways to try to reduce your chances of pre-eclampsia during your pregnancy, visit your local acupuncturist and check out what they have to offer.  You may be surprised to learn how much Chinese medicine can do!

Research abstract – http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/7/11

Pre-eclampsia prediction (podocytes) article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15694021

Pre-eclampsia prevention (L-arginine) article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13454469