A recent study found the presence of ergothioneine in the blood of women with preeclampsia to be higher than healthy pregnant women. Ergothioneine is an antioxidant found in fungi. The fungi can be ingested when pregnant women consume unpasteurized dairy products.
Preeclampsia affects 10% of the pregnant population. The condition, which has no known cause, can result in dangerously high blood pressure and fetal death. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby. Scientists hope the detection of ergothioneine levels will lead to early detection of preeclampsia and a possible cause for the condition.
While doctors are not telling pregnant women to stop eating unpasteurized dairy products, they understand that further study is needed into why ergothioneine levels are higher in women with preeclampsia. "Ergothioneine is known as an antioxidant and antioxidants have been proposed to be helpful in reducing the risk of preeclampsia. It is therefore very interesting that we have found it to be in excess for women with the condition," says Dr. Fisher.
The research team used an MRI-like scan of blood cells to determine the presence of chemicals in the blood. Chemical markers for preeclampsia have also been found in blood plasma in previous studies.
Reproductive Sciences 2009