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Potassium in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

Potassium in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Chapter:
Potassium in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Author(s):

Sir Peter Gluckman

, Mark Hanson

, Chong Yap Seng

, and Anne Bardsley

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198722700.003.0022
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date: 16 October 2019

Potassium is an important electrolyte involved in transmission of electrical signals for muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and cardiac function. The fetus accumulates potassium throughout gestation, but little is known about maternal potassium balance during pregnancy. Conditions associated with pregnancy, such as severe vomiting or morning sickness, can cause potassium loss. Caffeine increases the renal excretion of potassium, and cases of hypokalaemia in pregnancy have been observed in women with heavy caffeine/cola consumption, resulting in extreme muscle fatigue. To date there is insufficient evidence to suggest that the potassium requirement is increased during pregnancy, although a small increase in intake is needed for lactation. Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors and bone loss may be assisted by increasing potassium intake and/or by dietary sodium reduction.

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