Magnesium deficiency is prevalent in women of childbearing age in both developing and developed countries. The need for magnesium increases during pregnancy, and the majority of pregnant women likely do not meet this increased need. Magnesium deficiency or insufficiency during pregnancy may pose a health risk for both the mother and the newborn, with implications that may extend into adulthood of the offspring. The measurement of serum magnesium is the most widely used method for determining magnesium levels, but it has significant limitations that have both hindered the assessment of deficiency and affected the reliability of studies in pregnant women. Thus far, limited studies have suggested links between magnesium inadequacy and certain conditions in pregnancy associated with high mortality and morbidity, such as gestational diabetes, preterm labor, preeclampsia, and small for gestational age or intrauterine growth restriction. This review provides recommendations for further study and improved testing using measurement of red cell magnesium. Pregnant women should be counseled to increase their intake of magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and leafy greens and/or to supplement with magnesium at a safe level.
Keywords: magnesium; preeclampsia; pregnancy; preterm labor; red cell magnesium.
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