A common diabetes drug – metformin – may be able to help prevent and treat preeclampsia, which is a life-threatening, incurable condition experienced by pregnant women. Preeclampsia occurs typically at 20 weeks of pregnancy. A woman’s blood pressure rises and insufficient blood flow reaches the placenta and releases toxins into the bloodstream. Currently, the only way to treat preeclampsia is to deliver the child early, which increases the risk of disability or death for the infant.
Other studies that examined multiple health effects of metformin found it could extend the lives of diabetics and non-diabetics, and some studies suggest metformin has anti-cancer properties.
The toxins released in a mother’s blood are sFlt-1 and sENG, which disrupt the endothelial cells that form the lining in blood vessels. Tests of metformin showed that it successfully reduced the toxins and also helped repair damaged blood vessels. Metformin was also able to work as a vasodilator and dilate blood vessels, which helps reduce blood pressure.
Researchers are hopeful that metformin may have other beneficial properties in regards to pregnant women, such as reducing fetal death, fetal growth restriction and premature labor.