Calcium supplementation during pregnancy for preventing hypertensive disorders and related problems.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010(8):CD001059. Epub 2010 Aug 4. PMID: 20687064
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, East London Hospital Complex, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape Department of Health, Frere and Cecilia Makiwane Hospitals, Private Bag X 9047, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 5200.
BACKGROUND: Pre-eclampsia and eclampsia are common causes of serious morbidity and death. Calcium supplementation may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia through a number of mechanisms, and may help to prevent preterm birth. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of calcium supplementation during pregnancy on hypertensive disorders of pregnancy and related maternal and child outcomes. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (May 2010) and contacted study authors. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials comparing at least 1 g daily of calcium during pregnancy with placebo. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We assessed eligibility and trial quality, extracted and double-entered data. MAIN RESULTS: We included 13 studies of good quality (involving 15,730 women). The average risk of high blood pressure was reduced with calcium supplementation rather than placebo (12 trials, 15,470 women: risk ratio (RR) 0.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 0.81). There was also a reduction in the average risk of pre-eclampsia associated with calcium supplementation (13 trials, 15,730 women: RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.65). The effect was greatest for high-risk women (five trials, 587 women: RR 0.22, 95% CI 0.12 to 0.42), and those with low baseline calcium intake (eight trials, 10,678 women: RR 0.36, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.65).The average risk of preterm birth was reduced in the calcium group overall (11 trials, 15,275 women: RR 0.76, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.97) and amongst women at high risk of developing pre-eclampsia recruited to four small trials (568 women: RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.83).There was no overall effect on the risk of stillbirth or death before discharge from hospital (11 trials 15,665 babies; RR 0.90, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.09). The composite outcome maternal death or serious morbidity was reduced (four trials, 9732 women; RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.97). Most of the women in these trials were low risk and had a low calcium diet. Maternal deaths were reported in only one trial. One death occurred in the calcium group and six in the placebo group, a difference which was not statistically significant (RR 0.17, 95% CI 0.02 to 1.39).Blood pressure in childhood has been assessed in two studies, only one of which is currently included: childhood systolic blood pressure greater than 95th percentile was reduced (514 children: RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.91). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Calcium supplementation appears to approximately halve the risk of pre-eclampsia, to reduce the risk of preterm birth and to reduce the rare occurrence of the composite outcome 'death or serious morbidity'. There were no other clear benefits, or harms.