Experiments in animals suggest the exercise supplement Creatine may prevent a baby’s brain being damaged during pregnancy and childbirth. Human studies are needed.
Creatine packs a punch at the gym
Creatine is a popular nutritional supplement among athletes as it improves muscle performance in healthy individuals. Athletes rave about the flavoured powder which, when mixed with water or milk, produces a “delicious energy shake”. Athletes believe Creatine can sustain their performance during short but intense periods of exercise such as weight training, sprinting, and baseball. It works by releasing energy during periods of high and fluctuating energy demand. Creatine may hold the key to preventing an unborn baby’s brain from being injured during pregnancy and childbirth.
Why pregnancy and childbirth is the ultimate workout
As the baby develops during pregnancy the brain is especially vulnerable to injury. As the baby’s brain develops it may face many risks which are equivalent to the intense periods of high and fluctuating energy demand athletes experience during intense exercise. Injury may be caused by many different risks, including the baby being born too early, the placenta, which delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body, not working properly, or an infection in the womb. This can cause very distressing long term problems, including cerebral palsy, a disorder where the ability to move the arms or legs normally is reduced, blindness, deafness, or other physical disabilities.
Experiments suggest Creatine may prevent brain injury
Human studies have shown when Creatine is given to the mother during pregnancy, it can safely pass through the placenta to the baby. Experiments in animals suggest that Creatine having passed through the placenta may be able to protect the baby’s brain from injury. Recently researchers have attempted to identify, appraise, and combine the results all high quality experiments in a recently published Cochrane review. Unfortunately, they could not find any high quality scientific experiments. These high quality studies are called randomised A trial in which a group (the ‘intervention group’) is given a intervention being tested (for example a drug, surgery, or exercise) is compared with a group which does not receive the intervention (the ‘control group’).. They are experiments which could allocate mothers with babies in the womb at A way of expressing the chance of an event taking place, expressed as the number of events divided by the total number of observations or people. It can be stated as ‘the chance of falling were one in four’ (1/4 = 25%). This measure is good no matter the incidence of events i.e. common or infrequent. of brain injury to Creatine or “sugar pill” at random to see if Creatine really works.
Human studies are needed
The researchers suggest the time is right to conduct this high quality scientific experiment. They explain the babies in these Clinical trials are research studies involving people who use healthcare services. They often compare a new or different treatment with the best treatment currently available. This is to test whether the new or different treatment is safe, effective and any better than what is currently used. No matter how promising a new treatment may appear during tests in a laboratory, it must go through clinical trials before its benefits and risks can really be known. would need to be followed up over a long period of time so the effects of Creatine could be measured well into adulthood.
Dickinson H, Bain E, Wilkinson D, Middleton P, Crowther CA, Walker DW. Creatine for women in pregnancy for neuroprotection of the fetus. Cochrane Database of In systematic reviews we search for and summarize studies that answer a specific research question (e.g. is paracetamol effective and safe for treating back pain?). The studies are identified, assessed, and summarized by using a systematic and predefined approach. They inform recommendations for healthcare and research. 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD010846. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010846.pub2
Dickinson H, Ellery S, Ireland Z, LaRosa D, Snow R, Walker DW. 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. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2014 Apr 27;14:150.