Maternal oxidative stress may result in low birth weight of offspring

Many studies have demonstrated the impact of maternal redox status on birthweight of the offspring. An increase in oxidative stress is accompanied by a decrease in birthweight. Birthweight is an important predictor for mortality and morbidity as low birthweights have been associated with hypertension and diabetes mellitus later in life, both of which lead to cardiovascular disease- the current leading cause of mortality.

During critical periods of fetal development, oxidative stress may adversely affect fetal outcome. Infants born small for gestational age (SGA) have lower oxygen radical absorbance capacity and low vitamin C and E serum concentration. They also have low superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in the first 3 hours of life. SOD is an important antioxidant that prevents damage from free radicals. Antioxidants are needed to maintain an adequate intracellular reduction state to prevent oxidative damage to many components in the body such as hemoglobin. Protecting hemoglobin from damage will have an impact on maternal and fetal oxygen tension; low oxygen levels may cause growth restriction. With an increase in oxidative stress, there is a greater risk of endothelial dysfunction which can impair maternal-fetal blood flow leading to low birthweight through intra-uterine growth restriction. An increase in extracellular SOD activity correlated significantly with birthweight in healthy pregnancies. Thus fetal weight is a complex process involving not only genetic factors but environmental factors such as maternal nutrition.

This study involved 26 women aged 20-31 years. The authors found that thiamine consumption was correlated directly with birthweight (p<0.01).  The combination of carotenoids, vitamin C and E were also positively associated with birthweight.
Thiamine as thiamine pyrophosphate is important in the pentose phosphate pathway that generates an important cofactor for glutathione reductase, which is in turn important in regenerating the antioxidant reduced glutathione (GSH) from the oxidized glutathione disulfide (GSSH), thus modulating reactive oxygen species. A reducing environment is important for fetal development and guarantees almost 65% of birth weight.

In women with gestational hypertension, thiamine improved glucose tolerance and also prevented low birthweight which is a common side effect of conventional treatment for this syndrome.

Thiamine nitrate, beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E are all present in PM Procare (Pregnancy & Breastfeeding supplement).

Osorio, J.C., et al., Influence of maternal redox status on birth weight. Reprod Toxicol, 2011. 31(1): p. 35-40.