Pregnant women taking increased amounts of calcium during pregnancy may reduce the risk of hypertension,
but no other positive benefits are proven, according to a new study.

While many obstetricians advise pregnant women to up calcium intake
during pregnancy, there is no proof this increase helps the development
of the baby or reduces the risk of any pregnancy related complications, aside from hypertension.

is no debate that the diet of a pregnant woman impacts the health of
the unborn fetus. Recent research has linked diet to increased risk of
obesity and other health factors, but it does not appear that calcium
plays as important a role as other nutritional factors. Calcium will not
reduce the risk of premature labor, lower than average birth weight or
maternal bone density.

While increasing calcium during pregnancy may reduce the risk of hypertension,
it does not prevent or inhibit preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is one known
cause of pregnancy hypertension. There is no known cause of preeclampsia and
no cure, other than child birth. If preeclampsia occurs before the
pregnancy reaches full-term, there is an increased risk of premature
birth and potential side effects.

This report is a compilation
of 21 studies with about 16,000 participants. Due to the diversity of
the study population, the small increase in birth weight could not be
directly associated with calcium intake.

The report was
completed by the Cochrane Library. The library looks at a combination of
medical studies and renders results based on those studies. Doctors
fall on both sides of the Cochrane Library's findings.

doctors believe calcium does have an indirect effect on pre-term labor.
If calcium reduces the risk of hypertension and hypertension during
pregnancy increases the risk of pre-term labor, there is good enough
reason to suggest increased calcium intake during pregnancy. However,
other doctors feel the impact of calcium supplements could increase the
risk of heart attack and stroke. One doctor noted that calcium
supplementation causes a mineral imbalance in the body. This imbalance
could cause artery damage.

Researchers note new, larger and more
comprehensive studies are needed to make a definitive ruling on calcium
supplementation during pregnancy.

Source: Buppasiri P, et al. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2011.