Pregnancy Tips: Manganese-Rich Diets May Help Women Cut Preeclampsia Risk

Researchers have found that women who eat foods rich in manganese before and during pregnancy are less likely to experience preeclampsia. This complication annually affects 2 percent to 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide and more than 100,000 women in the U.S. 

The new study, published in the journal Epidemiology, comes amid the growing rates of preeclampsia. It puts women at risk of high blood pressure, organ damage, stroke and premature birth, among other serious health problems. 

To see how manganese supports pregnancy, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health followed more than 1,300 women. The team collected data from an earlier study, called Project Viva, which included preeclampsia outcomes and levels of the essential mineral in the blood of women.

Participants were divided into three groups based on their manganese levels. Researchers found that women with high manganese levels had the lowest risk of preeclampsia, especially those who maintained enough minerals in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Increasing the intake of manganese before and during pregnancy may even offer better protection against the complication. 

"These new findings are especially relevant, considering that preeclampsia rates are increasing and we still lack any good strategy for preventing it," Tiange Liu, study’s first author and a research data analyst at the Bloomberg School, said in a statement.

The findings support an earlier study conducted by the same research team with more than 1,000 women from the Boston Birth Cohort. They found in 2019 that women who experience preeclampsia had significantly lower levels of manganese in their red blood cells after giving birth.

Researchers said more studies are needed to further understand how the mineral directly affects women during preeclampsia. Future analysis may include high-manganese diets, which include mussels, brown rice, sweet potatoes, pine nuts and spinach.

"If our findings are confirmed by other prospective pre-birth cohorts, then this association between low manganese and preeclampsia should be examined experimentally, first in mice and then in humans," Noel Mueller, senior author of the study and an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School, said.

Pregnancy and Preeclampsia The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that preeclampsia happens in about one in 25 pregnancies in the U.S. Pixabay

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