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Am J Perinatol. 1996 Jul;13(5):287-91.

Serum vitamin A, vitamin E, and beta-carotene levels in preeclamptic women in northern nigeria.

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Division of Life Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio, USA.


We compared the serum levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A (retinol), and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in healthy pregnant women and their counterparts who exhibited the signs and symptoms of preeclampsia or eclampsia, including: systolic blood pressure greater than 160 mm Hg, edema, and proteinuria. The study was conducted in the cities of Maiduguri and Bauchi, which are located in the semi-arid northeastern region of Nigeria. Most of the pregnant subjects: (1) were teenagers, though they ranged in age from 14 to 25 years; (2) had 2 or fewer prior pregnancies; and (3) were predominantly of the Muslim faith and members of the Hausa, Fulani, or Kanuri ethnic groups. Few of the women had received prenatal care. Serum levels of vitamins A and E and betacarotene were quantified using high pressure liquid chromatography. The serum vitamin A levels of the 9 preeclamptic women (15.3 mg/dL) and the 7 eclamptic women (8.3 mg/dL) were significantly reduced (p < 0.01) relative to the serum vitamin A levels of healthy women in the third trimester (24.2 mg/dL). For the healthy pregnant controls, the levels of vitamins A and E and beta-carotene were relatively constant throughout pregnancy. The mean serum beta-carotene levels for both the preeclamptic and eclamptic groups of subjects were half as high as those of healthy control women in the third trimester (p = 0.004). The serum vitamin E levels of the preeclamptic and eclamptic women were 15% and 30% lower, respectively, than those of the corresponding controls (p < 0.01). The serum levels of these three lipids in the healthy pregnant and non-pregnant women we studied are similar to values reported by others for North American and European women of childbearing age. These results support the hypothesis that preeclampsia-eclampsia deplete natural lipid antioxidants and suggest that the reduced levels of vitamin A in such women experiencing hypertension of pregnancy, if they happen to be infected with the HIV-1 virus, may place them at increased risk for mother-child transmission of the virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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