Purpose of review: Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathophysiology of disorders during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period, but open questions exist on the effects of antioxidants, the role of oxidative stress during resuscitation and the antioxidative protection of human milk.
Recent findings: In a randomized controlled trial, fish oil supplementation to pregnant women did not enhance oxidative stress. Two randomized controlled trials supplementing high dosages of both vitamins C and E did not show any reduction in the incidence of preeclampsia. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing resuscitation of asphyxiated infants either with 100% oxygen or with room air demonstrated significantly lower neonatal mortality with use of room air. Antioxidative properties of human milk were greater in milk from mothers of term than of preterm infants.
Summary: Increased levels of oxidative stress and reduced antioxidative capacities may contribute to the pathogenesis of disorders in the perinatal period. Based on the available evidence, supplementation of pregnant women with high dosages of both vitamin C and E cannot be recommended. Asphyxiated newborn infants should be resuscitated with room air rather than with 100% oxygen. Breastfeeding appears beneficial in providing antioxidative protection.