Two Randomized Trials of Low-Dose Calcium Supplementation in Pregnancy

N Engl J Med. 2024 Jan 11;390(2):143-153. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2307212.


Background: The World Health Organization recommends 1500 to 2000 mg of calcium daily as supplementation, divided into three doses, for pregnant persons in populations with low dietary calcium intake in order to reduce the risk of preeclampsia. The complexity of the dosing scheme, however, has led to implementation barriers.

Methods: We conducted two independent randomized trials of calcium supplementation, in India and Tanzania, to assess the noninferiority of a 500-mg daily dose to a 1500-mg daily dose of calcium supplementation. In each trial, the two primary outcomes were preeclampsia and preterm birth, and the noninferiority margins for the relative risks were 1.54 and 1.16, respectively.

Results: A total of 11,000 nulliparous pregnant women were included in each trial. The cumulative incidence of preeclampsia was 3.0% in the 500-mg group and 3.6% in the 1500-mg group in the India trial (relative risk, 0.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.68 to 1.03) and 3.0% and 2.7%, respectively, in the Tanzania trial (relative risk, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.36) - findings consistent with the noninferiority of the lower dose in both trials. The percentage of live births that were preterm was 11.4% in the 500-mg group and 12.8% in the 1500-mg group in the India trial (relative risk, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.80 to 0.98), which was within the noninferiority margin of 1.16; in the Tanzania trial, the respective percentages were 10.4% and 9.7% (relative risk, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.95 to 1.21), which exceeded the noninferiority margin.

Conclusions: In these two trials, low-dose calcium supplementation was noninferior to high-dose calcium supplementation with respect to the risk of preeclampsia. It was noninferior with respect to the risk of preterm live birth in the trial in India but not in the trial in Tanzania. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others; number, NCT03350516; Clinical Trials Registry-India number, CTRI/2018/02/012119; and Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority Trials Registry number, TFDA0018/CTR/0010/5).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Equivalence Trial

MeSH terms

  • Calcium* / adverse effects
  • Calcium* / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth* / prevention & control
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Calcium

Associated data

  • CTRI/CTRI/2018/02/012119