Preeclampsia is also known as toxemia of pregnancy; it is characterized by increasing blood pressure, headaches, protein in the urine, and edema (swelling). If left unchecked, it can lead to eclampsia, which can lead to convulsions and coma. It is one of the leading causes of maternal, fetal and neonatal disability and death.
One feature of preeclampsia is loss of vascular elasticity. Research done by Magee Women’s Research Institute and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that even a mild deficiency in vitamin C can have an adverse effect on vascular elasticity. The researchers studied arterial pressure and elasticity in rats (some pregnant, some not pregnant).
Rats, like humans, are unable to synthesize vitamin C. The researchers found that restricting vitamin C in pregnant rats negatively affected the suppleness of the vascular system (non-pregnant rats were not similarly affected). This supports earlier research that shows that women with preeclampsia have low serum levels of vitamin C.