Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Preeclampsia: blame the placenta, treat with fish? vegan diet? antioxidants?

I have been learning a lot about preeclampsia at RedStateMoron's blog these past weeks. Did you know that it's caused by placental detrius in the bloodstream? Me neither. I thought its causes were unknown. What is more, there appears to be a genetic predisposition toward preeclampsia for which doctors may soon be able to screen.

For anyone who has preeclampsia, however, the question turns toward treatment. The axiom that "the only cure for preeclampsia is delivering the baby" is little consolation when the condition sets in at 25 weeks' gestation. Even later in pregnancy, preeclampsia can turn the hopes for a vaginal delivery into an emergency Cesarean in a matter of hours.

Ina May Gaskin's birth records from The Farm show a preeclampsia rate of 0.39% -- as compared to the national rate of roughly 5% -- which The Farm residents (and a few researchers) tout as the benefits of their vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Renowned French obstetrician Michel Odent advocates eating lots of "fish from the sea." Lately a lot of attention has been given to the role antioxidants may play in preventing preeclampsia.

Can any one treatment be "the one?"

Again, RedStateMoron has a helpful perspective on placing faith in simple answer.

My wholly unqualified guess is that, as with so many things, there is a genetic predisposition which may or may not be triggered depending on a variety of things, diet among them. Finding a "cure" for preeclampsia will probably involve tailoring treatment (drugs, diet, surgery) to each individual. Nothing new here. That is the nature of pregnancy and birth -- and good medicine.


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