Objective: To review the effect of calcium supplementation during pregnancy on blood pressure, preeclampsia, and adverse outcomes of pregnancy.
Data source: We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE for 1966 to May 1994. We contacted authors of eligible trials to ensure accuracy and completeness of data and to identify unpublished trials.
Study selection: Fourteen randomized trials involving 2459 women were eligible.
Data extraction: Reviewers working independently in pairs abstracted data and assessed validity according to six quality criteria.
Data synthesis: Each trial yielded differences in blood pressure change between calcium supplementation and control groups that we weighted by the inverse of the variance. The pooled analysis showed a reduction in systolic blood pressure of -5.40 mm Hg (95% confidence interval [CI], -7.81 to -3.00 mm Hg; P<.001) and in diastolic blood pressure of -3.44 mm Hg (95% CI, -5.20 to -1.68 mm Hg; P<.001). The odds ratio for preeclampsia in women with calcium supplementation compared with placebo was 0.38 (95% CI, 0.22 to 0.65).
Conclusions: Calcium supplementation during pregnancy leads to an important reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and preeclampsia. While pregnant women at risk of preeclampsia should consider taking calcium, many more patient events are needed to confirm calcium's impact on maternal and fetal morbidity.