A 2006 study conducted by the University of Warwick Medical School revealed that nitric oxide helps pregnant women overcome pre-eclampsia and hypertension.
While nitric oxide is largely known as an air pollutant produced by power plants and automobiles, the lesser known fact is that they are also gaseous molecules needed by the body to function properly. Nitric oxide molecules act as a vasodilator, by sending signals to the blood vessels to dilate, which in turn, allow nutrients, oxygen, and blood to effortlessly flow to different parts of the body.
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy complication manifested by high blood pressure and certain dysfunction of body organs usually of the liver and kidneys. It commonly takes place after twenty weeks of pregnancy. This complication affects only 7-10% of pregnant women to which the first signs are the presence of protein in urine and high blood pressure.
The Warwick medical researchers’ findings showed that pre-eclampsia brings a surge of signalling irregularities such as painful neuropathy, edema (swelling) and hypertension, through numerous protein receptors that hinder the NO-producing enzyme from releasing NO molecules.
Although the cause is still unknown up to this day, the complication should be taken seriously as it can lead to seizures and even worse, death. In serious cases of pre-eclampsia, specifically those that appear before the thirty-fourth week of the gestation period, the fetus experiences asphyxia, and an increase in respiratory and nutritional complications. During pregnancy maintaining adequate levels of nitric oxide (NO) is important in maintaining a healthy flow of blood to the baby,
Researchers Found Out How Nitric Oxide Aid in Managing Pre-Eclampsia
Researchers from the Warwick Medical School discovered the span of problems that can affect the way nitric oxide functions in the placenta when suffering from pre-eclampsia.
They found out that in instances when a pregnancy is compromised, the placenta releases a hormone called corticotropin, which directs the body’s ability to produce nitric oxide.That way, even if the enzyme is prevented from producing NO molecules, the placenta has the ability to produce enough nitric oxide.
In line with their discovery, the researchers had hoped to study medical interventions that provide a solution in allowing nitric oxide to function normally for general health conditions. They hope that the malfunctioning protein receptors that prevent the enzyme that releases the gaseous NO molecules, be the first target of future researchers.
In separate studies, food researchers have found out that fruits, vegetables and seeds contain large amounts of nitric oxide. Today, there are food supplements that include nitric oxide as a way to improve the body’s levels of nitric oxide, as a potential remedy for poor blood circulation.
However, it is important for pregnant women to consult their physician before taking such supplements. The country’s FDA warns that there are a lot of supplements that are not approved due to lack of accurate studies in support of such supplements.