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Ann Epidemiol. 2007 Sep;17(9):663-8. Epub 2007 May 23.

Diet during pregnancy and risk of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA. emily_oken@harvardpilgrim.org



We sought to examine associations of first-trimester intake of calcium, n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, trans fatty acids, magnesium, folate, and vitamins C, D, and E with preeclampsia (PE) and gestational hypertension (GH).


We studied associations of diet with PE or GH among 1718 women in the prospective cohort study Project Viva, using logistic regression and adjusting for maternal age, prepregnancy body mass index, first trimester systolic blood pressure, race/ethnicity, education, and parity. We assessed first-trimester diet using a validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire.


A total of 59 (3%) women developed PE, and 119 developed (7%) GH. We found a somewhat-lower risk of PE associated with higher intake of the elongated n-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids (odds ratio [OR] 0.84, 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 0.69-1.03 per 100 mg/day), fish (OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.75-1.09 per serving/day), and the ratio of docosahexaenoic + eicosapentaenoic to arachadonic acid (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.66-1.01). We did not observe a lower risk of GH or PE with a greater intake of calcium; vitamin C, D, or E; milk; magnesium; folate; or with lower intake of n-6 or trans fatty acids.


Our results support a potential benefit for elongated n-3 fatty acids in preventing preeclampsia.

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