for a Healthier Pregnancy
© 2004 Priya F. Shah
parents-to-be nurture the dream of a healthy pregnancy and baby.
But the modern
environment and diet is deficient in many factors essential for
the health of mother and fetus. One of those factors is antioxidants.
The role of
antioxidants like folic acid in preventing birth defects like
spina bifida and cleft palate is well known. It is now included
in all prenatal vitamin supplements.
But the role
of antioxidants like glutathione and Vitamin E in pregnancy is
and glutathione status play an important role in the development
and growth of the fetus, maintenance of a healthy pregnancy -
and even before pregnancy, in fertility and conception.
is the body's master antioxidant. It helps to regenerate stores
of other antioxidants like Vitamin C and E.
It also protects
both mother and fetus from the damaging effects of free radicals
and oxidative stress.
complications and birth defects have been linked to oxidative
stress, free radical damage and low glutathione levels in the
mother and fetus.
The role of
glutathione in the development of the foetus and placenta is crucial.
Glutathione (GSH) can control cell differentiation, proliferation,
and cell death - essential functions in the developing embryo.
In the placenta,
glutathione detoxifies pollutants before they reach the developing
child. Most substances or factors which cause birth defects (teratogens)
are known to exert their embryotoxic effects because they cause
placenta possesses a significant amount of glutathione S-transferase
(GST) capable of detoxification or activation of drugs and pharmaceuticals
during the critical period of organ development in the fetus.
are known to cause birth defects in the growing fetus by generating
free radicals, and depleting GSH stores.
In the early
embryonic stages, the fetus is sensitive to the toxic and teratogenic
effects of chemicals, whereas it is sensitive to carcinogenic
effects during late fetal stages.
administered to the mother can be transferred through the placenta
and induce cancer in the fetus. Many carcinogens are much more
active in the fetus than in adults and they tend to act as abortifacients
and teratogens as well.
and lifestyle factors are known to cause oxidative stress and
lower glutathione levels - resulting in birth defects, abortion
and miscarriages in pregnancy.
Some of the
known teratogens (causing birth defects) in pregnancy include:
o Pesticides and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
o Air pollution
o Heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, arsenic)
o Vinyl chloride
o Excess Oxygen (hyperoxia)
o Anti-psychotic and anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs)
o Cigarette smoke
o Alcohol (ethanol) consumption
factors that increase free radicals and cause birth defects include:
o Infection and Inflammation
and other antioxidants attenuate oxidative stress in pregnant
women with inflammation or maternal conditions like diabetes and
pre-eclampsia, and in fetuses at risk for developing cystic fibrosis.
with glutathione precursors and antioxidants can decrease the
incidence of birth defects and protect both mothers and the fetus
from the damaging and possibly fatal consequences of pregnancy
(GSH ) also prevents or minimizes the oxidative stress that occurs
during labor and the birth process.
or birth asphyxia/hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen supply to the
brain) in preterm deliveries and labor can lead to cerebral palsy,
respiratory distress syndrome, irreversible brain injury, and
permanent neurological and intellectual handicaps.
of the glutathione precursor, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), to the
pregnant mother partially prevents oxidative stress during the
birth process in premature infants.
the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises all
pregnant women to take a prenatal vitamin containing antioxidants.
they advise eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the best
sources of antioxidant protection.
Read a detailed
report with references on the role
of glutathione in pregnancy
and nursing mothers should avoid the use of supplementary glutathione.
Pregnant women must always consult their healthcare provider before
initiating any course of supplementation. Women who are pregnant
or nursing should discontinue all supplements except as directed
by their healthcare providers.
Priya Shah is the Editor of The
Glutathione Report, a newsletter featuring regular updates
on the health benefits of glutathione. Get a Free
report on Glutathione in Health and Disease
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