Randomized, placebo controlled, double blind trial evaluating early pregnancy phytonutrient supplementation in the prevention of preeclampsia

Parrish MR, Martin JN Jr, Lamarca BB, Parrish SA, Owens MY, May WL; Feb. 2013


The aim of this study was to evaluate if supplementation with an antioxidant-rich, whole food-based fruit and vegetable juice powder supplement (FV) in early pregnancy would reduce oxidative stress in the first and early second trimester and thereby help prevent preeclampsia and other complications of pregnancy.  


In this single-center, placebo-controlled, parallel group study, 684 volunteers were categorized as low-risk or high-risk for preeclampsia. They were then randomized into treatment and placebo groups that had a similar ratio of high to low-risk patients. Participants took either 2 capsules of FV (Juice Plus+®) or a placebo daily starting at an average of 9 weeks gestation age and ending with delivery. They continued to eat their normal diet and to take any prescribed medications, iron supplements, or prenatal vitamins already in use. Pregnancy and newborn complications were then compared in both groups.


There were improvements in several parameters between the treatment and placebo groups, but none achieved statistical significance. For example, there was a non-significant reduction in placenta-related obstetric morbidity, such as premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery, placental abruption, intrauterine growth restriction, and pregnancy loss before 14 weeks (8.3% for FV vs 15.5% for placebo). Babies in the treatment group also trended toward higher birth weights, lower incidence in NICU admissions (5.3% for FV vs 15.4% for placebo) and lower rates of respiratory distress syndrome or RDS (5.3% for FV vs 15.4% for placebo). The researchers noted that one of the limitations of the study was the poor completion rate (39%) and called for further research. Only 267 out of the 684 initially randomized subjects completed the trial.


Initiation of antioxidant/phytonutrient supplementation in the first trimester did not decrease rates of preeclampsia. Non-significant trends toward lower incidences of placental derived morbidity in those mothers taking the supplement in addition to decreased rates of RDS in infants born to supplemented mothers considered to be high-risk for preeclampsia, warrant further investigation.

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