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Avoid Diuretic Pills During Pregnancy

h as prescribing more calcium-rich foods and other treatments that may prevent the condition before it appears, rather than searching for ways to lessen its effects, said Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., a maternal nutrition specialist at the University of Pittsburgh.

"There are no changes that a woman can make that will lessen symptoms or 'cure' her disease once she has overt preeclampsia. The dietary modifications that women should make are in early pregnancy, or even before a woman gets pregnant," Bodnar said.

Researchers and doctors originally prescribed diuretics to prevent preeclampsia because they thought the condition was caused by excess salt and water retained by pregnant women. Diuretics increase urination and remove water and salt from the body that can cause serious symptoms in liver, kidney and heart disease, including high blood pressure.

However, doctors stopped recommending diuretics as a regular preventive measure in the 1980s when studies began to link the pills with a decrease in pregnant women's plasma levels, the liquid part of blood that carries blood cells. Plasma levels normally increase as part of a healthy pregnancy.

Diuretics are still prescribed to pregnant women, although less than they used to be.

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