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Creatine supplementation during pregnancy: summary of experimental studies suggesting a treatment to improve fetal and neonatal morbidity and reduce mortality in high-risk human pregnancy

Hayley Dickinson1, Stacey Ellery1, Zoe Ireland2, Domenic LaRosa1, Rodney Snow3 and David W Walker14*

Author Affiliations

1 The Ritchie Centre, MIMR-PHI Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, 27-31 Wright St., Clayton, Melbourne 3168 Australia

2 Clinical Research Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

3 Centre for Physical Activity & Nutrition, Deakin University, Burwood, Melbourne, Australia

4 Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Melbourne, Australia

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2014, 14:150  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-150

Published: 27 April 2014

Abstract

While the use of creatine in human pregnancy is yet to be fully evaluated, its long-term use in healthy adults appears to be safe, and its well documented neuroprotective properties have recently been extended by demonstrations that creatine improves cognitive function in normal and elderly people, and motor skills in sleep-deprived subjects. Creatine has many actions likely to benefit the fetus and newborn, because pregnancy is a state of heightened metabolic activity, and the placenta is a key source of free radicals of oxygen and nitrogen. The multiple benefits of supplementary creatine arise from the fact that the creatine-phosphocreatine [PCr] system has physiologically important roles that include maintenance of intracellular ATP and acid–base balance, post-ischaemic recovery of protein synthesis, cerebral vasodilation, antioxidant actions, and stabilisation of lipid membranes. In the brain, creatine not only reduces lipid peroxidation and improves cerebral perfusion, its interaction with the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor is likely to counteract the effects of glutamate excitotoxicity – actions that may protect the preterm and term fetal brain from the effects of birth hypoxia. In this review we discuss the development of creatine synthesis during fetal life, the transfer of creatine from mother to fetus, and propose that creatine supplementation during pregnancy may have benefits for the fetus and neonate whenever oxidative stress or feto-placental hypoxia arise, as in cases of fetal growth restriction, premature birth, or when parturition is delayed or complicated by oxygen deprivation of the newborn.