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Pregnant Women at Increasing Risk of Strokes

Published on August 16, 2011

Researchers are seeking the cause of a rise in women having strokes during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth

Women rarely have strokes during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, but researchers have seen a big jump in such events over the past 12 years, according to a U.S. study published the 27th of July. A total of 4,085 pregnancy-related stroke hospitalizations were documented in the United States in 1994-95, and that number rose 54 percent to 6,293 in 2006-07, said the study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Of course medical officials and doctors have not the slightest idea of what might be the most basic cause of this alarming rise. They speculate that more women are overweight when they become pregnant, which can add to the likelihood of complications from diabetes and high blood pressure.

“Now, more and more women entering pregnancy already have some type of risk factor for stroke, such as obesity, chronic hypertension, diabetes or congenital heart disease,” reported Dr. Elena Kuklina, the study’s author. The question remains, what is the underlying condition or conditions that lead to chronic hypertension, diabetes or congenital heart disease?

What good is the medical press when they publish an article like this without going further to address the underlying causes of these strokes pregnant woman are suffering from? This recently published information about strokes fails to mention, for example, the detriment of drinking diet soda and the increased risk of stroke that comes from drinking products from Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and many other companies. Researchers found that people who said they drank diet soda every day had a 48 percent higher risk of stroke or heart attack than people who drank no soda of any kind. The beverage findings should be “a wakeup call to pay attention to diet sodas,” said Dr. Steven Greenberg. He is a Harvard Medical School neurologist and vice chairman of the International Stroke Conference in California, where the research was presented on Wednesday. A simple solution, health experts say, is to drink water instead. Aspartame, a toxic chemical, is found in over 6,000 diet products and is being consumed by an estimated two-thirds of the population.

The National Institute of Health tells us that magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes that may contribute to heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Tavia Mathers and Dr. Renea Beckstrand from Brigham Young University published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2009 that magnesium has been heralded as an ingredient to watch in 2010 and noted that magnesium is helpful for reduction of the risk of stroke.[1]

Dr. Saver and colleagues[2] investigated the neuroprotective effect of early magnesium infusion in ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke in the field; three quarters of the infarct cohort were treated with magnesium within two hours of onset, and nearly one-third within one hour of onset. Dramatic early and good results were reported in the early (42% of <2-hour infarct patients) and 90-day global functional outcomes (69% of all patients and 75% of <2-hour infarct patients), respectively.

According to the current European treatment guidelines, no neuroprotective treatment is recommended for stroke patients.[3]

Dr. Jerry Nadler says, “Higher dietary intake of magnesium was among the factors associated with a reduced risk of stroke in men with hypertension. In a survey of almost 45,000 men ages 40 to 75, the overall risk of stroke was significantly lower for men in the highest quintile of intake of potassium, magnesium, and cereal fiber, but not of calcium, compared with men in the lowest quintile of intake. A similar relationship was reported this year by Meyer and colleagues, who observed that a diet rich in magnesium, grains, fruits, and vegetables reduced the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes in a group of almost 36,000 women. While no consistent effect of magnesium on blood pressure has been noted among persons with diabetes, a significant blood pressure reduction was noted in diabetic patients with hypertension after dietary sodium was replaced with potassium and magnesium.” [4]

The results of a 10-year study published in the August 28, 2008 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that magnesium administered to women delivering before 32 weeks of gestation reduced the risk of cerebral palsy by 50 percent. The Beneficial Effects of Antenatal Magnesium (BEAM) trial was conducted in 18 centers in the U.S., including Northwestern Memorial, and is the first prenatal intervention ever found to reduce the instance of cerebral palsy related to premature birth. Magnesium sulfate and magnesium chloride are used in obstetrics to stop premature labor and prevent seizures in women with hypertension.

Pregnancy cannot be normal unless magnesium levels are adequate. The concentration of magnesium in the placental and fetal tissues increases during pregnancy. The requirements for this element in a pregnant woman’s organism generally exceed its supply; hence, pregnancy should be considered a condition of “physiological hypomagnesemia.”[5]

Magnesium is Always Good for Mother and Fetus

Magnesium is used intravenously to prevent hypertensive crises or seizures associated with toxemia of pregnancy.[6] Magnesium is needed for reproductive fertility[7],[8] and the use of pharmaceutical contraceptives is known to diminish magnesium stores in our body.[9] The rate of premature births has increased more than 30 percent since 1981,[10] but a central obvious cause is ignored by doctors. Magnesium plays a crucial role in fertility, pregnancy,[11],[12],[13] and in early newborn life[14] and many of the problems associated with pregnancy and birth can be resolved by magnesium supplementation.

In 1991 Dr. Jean Durlach said, “Primary magnesium deficiency may occur in fertile women. Gestational magnesium deficiency is able to induce maternal, fetal, and pediatric consequences that might last throughout life. Experimental studies of gestational Mg deficiency show that Mg deficiency during pregnancy may have marked effects on the processes of parturition and of postuterine involution. It may interfere with fetal growth and development from teratogenic effects to morbidity: i.e. hematological effects and disturbances in temperature regulation. Clinical studies on the consequences of maternal primary Mg deficiency in women have been insufficiently investigated.” Magnesium is frequently used as the treatment for stopping premature labor and the seizures of eclampsia at the point it starts, but might be more helpful in preventing these if supplemented throughout the course of pregnancy.

Dr. Durlach has also shown the increased safety of using magnesium chloride over magnesium sulfate.[15] There is also evidence that magnesium deficiency/depletion is involved in the etiology of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).[16],[17],[18],[19]

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The evidence is clear that inadequate magnesium intake is common during pregnancy and that the plasma levels of magnesium tend to fall, especially during the first and third trimesters of pregnancy. – Dr. Mildred S. Seelig

It really is a crying shame that contemporary medicine cannot put its shoes on and tie the laces when it comes to magnesium medicine. When it comes to helping pregnant mothers weather the stress of pregnancy, and navigating around the potential risks of strokes, seizures and many other complications associated with pregnancy and birth, there is nothing like magnesium.

Doctors who practice pharmaceutical-driven medicine are like builders who forget to build the foundation. They prescribe medicines that further strip the body’s cells of their magnesium stores without paying any attention to the deficiencies that are there. That’s medical negligence and malpractice all rolled into one.

[1] Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. December 2009, Volume 21, Issue 12, Pages: 651-657 “Oral magnesium supplementation in adults with coronary heart disease or coronary heart disease risk”

[2] Saver JL, Kidwell C, Eckstein M, Starkman S; for the FAST-MAG pilot trial investigators. Stroke. 2004; 35: e106–108

[3] Toni D, Chamorro A, Kaste M, Keddedy Lees, Wahlgren NG, Hacke W, for the EUSI Executive Committee and the EUSI Writing Committee. Acute Treatment of Ischemic Stroke. Cerebrovasc Dis. 2004;17(suppl 2):30-46.

[4] Diabetes and Magnesium;

[5] Semczuk M, Semczuk-Sikora A. New data on toxic metal intoxication (Cd, Pb, and Hg in particular) and Mg status during pregnancy. Med Sci Monit. 2001 Mar-Apr;7(2):332-40.

[6] Management of Obstetric Hypertensive Crises; OBG management; July 2005 · Vol. 17, No. 7

[7] Folic acid, vitamins E, B6 and B12, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium deficiencies have been known to cause infertility that is easily reversible with supplementation (McLeod, 1996). 

[8] Howard JM, Davies S, Hunnisett A. 1994. Red cell magnesium and glutathione peroxidase in infertile women – effects of oral supplementation with magnesium and selenium. Magnesium Research 7(1):49×57

[9] Women are another group of drug consumers who should be especially concerned with drug-induced nutrient depletion. Few women know that oral contraceptives lower the levels of such vital nutrients as Vitamin B2, B6, and B12, Vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium and zinc. Mainstream hormone replacement (chiefly Premarin, but also Estratab and raloxifene) can also lead to deficiencies in Vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc. Drugs That Deplete – Nutrients That Heal, a review of the book Drug Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook by Pelton et al. 

[10] Institute of Medicine advisory: Reducing preterm birth; Causes, Consequences and Prevention; National Academies Press, June 2006;

[11] Rats kept severely magnesium depleted (receiving 1/200 the control magnesium intake) for the entire 21-day period of gestation had no living fetuses at term (Hurley and Cosens, 1970, 1971; Hurley, 1971; Hurley et al., 1976). The shorter the duration of the magnesium deficiency, the fewer implantation sites were affected. When the deficiency was maintained from day 6-12, about 30% of the implantation sites were involved and 14% of the full-term fetuses had gross congenital abnormalities (cleft lip, hydrocephalus, micrognathia or agnathia, clubbed feet, adactyly, syndactyly, or polydactyly, diaphragmatic hernia, and heart, lung, and urogenital anomalies). Milder magnesium deficiency (1/130 control intake) maintained throughout pregnancy resulted in resorption of half the implantation sites and malformation of the living young at term.


[13] There is mounting evidence of magnesium insufficiency during pregnancy. Experimental acute magnesium deficiency has caused increased parathyroid secretion and even parathyroid hyperplasia (Larvor et al., 1964a; Kukolj et al., 1965; Gitelman et al., 1965, 1968a,b; Lifshitz et al., 1967; Sherwood et al., 1970, 1972; Targovnik et al., 1971). Thus, the possibility that magnesium deficiency is contributory to hyperparathyroidism of pregnancy, which is common despite widespread supplementation with calcium and vitamin D

[14] Infants at greatest risk of neonatal hypomagnesemia are low-birth-weight infants, including those suffering from intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) or premature infants recovering from birth hypoxia or later respiratory distress, and infants born to very young primiparous women or to young mothers who have had frequent pregnancies or multiple births, to preeclamptic mothers, and to diabetic mothers.  The incidence of neonatal magnesium insufficiency may be greater than suspected. The tendency of women with preeclampsia or eclampsia to develop rising plasma magnesium levels during the last month of pregnancy, even without magnesium therapy, despite which they retain high percentages of parenterally administered pharmacologic doses of magnesium, suggests that magnesium deficiency might be far more common during pregnancy than is indicated by the incidence of hypomagnesemia.  MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF DISEASE, Seelig, M; Part 1, chpt. 2. 

[15] Magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate:
A genuine question; Magnesium Research. Volume 18, Number 3, 187-92, September 2005

[16] Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is defined as the sudden death of an infant or young child, which is unexpected by history, and in which a thorough postmortem fails to demonstrate an adequate cause for death. SIDS accounts for 35% of post-natal deaths.

[17] Two clinical forms of chronic gestational Mg deficiency in women have been stressed: Premature labor when chronic maternal Mg deficiency is involved in uterine hyperexcitability, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when it is caused by either simple Mg deficiency or various forms of Mg depletion. If gestational Mg deficiency is the only cause for uterine overactivity, nutritional Mg supplementation constitutes the etiopathogenic atoxic tocolytic treatment. Mg deficiency or various forms of Mg depletion. SIDS may be caused by the fetal consequences of maternal Mg deficiency through an impaired control of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) thermoregulation, mechanisms leading to a modified temperature set point. SIDS may result from dysthermias: hypo- or hyperthermic forms. A possible prevention could rest on simple maternal nutritional Mg supplementation. SIDS might be linked to an impaired maturation of both the photoneuroendocrine system and BAT. A preventive treatment of this form of SIDS should associate atoxic nutritional Mg therapy for pregnant women with total light deprivation at night for the infant. New data on the importance of gestational Mg deficiency. Durlach; Magnes Res. 2004 Jun;17(2):116-25  EntrezPubMed

[18] Published findings in mothers of victims of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and in the SIDS victims are compared with characteristics of magnesium deficiency in humans and animals. Observations concerning the level of magnesium in traditional diets of selected ethnic groups with the highest or lowest rates of SIDS appear to confirm the importance of magnesium in protecting the offspring from sudden death. The apparent impact of gestational magnesium (Mg) deficiency on the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS);Cardell;MagnesRes.2001Dec;14(4):291-303

[19] Magnesium deficiency promotes muscle weakness, contributing to the risk of sudden infant death (SIDS) in infants sleeping prone. Cardell;  Magnes Res. 2001 Mar;14(1-2):39-50

Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Professor of Natural Oncology, Da Vinci Institute of Holistic Medicine
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine
Founder of Natural Allopathic Medicine

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