HealthDay News — Supplementation with folic acid beyond the first trimester does not prevent preeclampsia among high-risk women, according to a study published online September 12 in The BMJ.

Shi Wu Wen, PhD, from the Ottawa Research Institute in Canada, and colleagues conducted a randomized Phase 3 trial in 70 obstetrical centers in 5 countries involving pregnant women with at least 1 high risk factor for preeclampsia. Participants were randomized to receive daily high-dose folic acid (four 1mg oral tablets; 1144 participants) or placebo (1157 participants) from 8 weeks of gestation to the end of week 16 of gestation until delivery.

The researchers found that preeclampsia occurred in 14.8 and 13.5% of women in the folic acid and placebo groups, respectively (relative risk, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.90 to 1.34; P=.37). The groups did not differ in terms of adverse maternal or neonatal outcomes. 

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“These findings are another disappointment in the long search for a more effective measure to prevent preeclampsia,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “Other treatments, such as antioxidant supplements, have been equally biologically plausible but failed to translate into clinical benefits.”

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