Pre-eclaimpsia in one of the most frequent complications of pregnancy - but no one is quite sure why it happens. It occures in 3 to 5 percent of all pregnancies, starting at about 20 weeks of pregnancy, when the woman's blood pressure begins to rise unexplainably to dangerous levels. A woman is said to progress from pre-eclampsia to eclampsia when her pressure rises so high that she begins to have seizures.
According to University of Pittsburgh researcher Lisa Bodnar, pre-eclampsia accounts for about 15 percent of maternal deaths in the United States, but in the developing world, it accounts for up to 80 percent of maternal deaths due to pregnancy.
Bodnar and other researchers have been looking for pre-eclampsia risk factors that can be modified to help prevent the condition. Bodnar and her colleagues think they may have found one risk factor in a large study group of women - Vitamin D deficiency. They found that women who were Vitamin D deficient in early pregnancy had a five-fold-increased risk of pre-eclampsia, compared to women that were not Vitamin D deficient. And the risk increased as Vitamin D status worsened.
Bodnar notes while there are some dietary sources of Vitamin D - most notably fatty fish - the vitamin is most commonly manafactured by the body in response to sunlight. But despite the easy availability of Vitamin D, about one billion people across the world are Vitamin D-deficient, even in regions that are quite sunny.
The main reasons for that are primarily because of the way that individuals dress. Often times in developing countries, for instance, women who are covered, or have a specific dress code in which they need to have a majority of their skin covered, they cannot make Vitamin D when they’re outside. Also, people with very dark skin make Vitamin D less efficiently from sunlight than do people with light skin.
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