Beri Beri During Pregnancy: Causes and Symptoms


Vitamin B-1 deficiency, also known as thiamine deficiency is the main cause of beriberi. There is wet beriberi and dry beriberi, which are basically the two types of this disease. The chances of developing beriberi are very low for those having access to foods rich in thiamine. Although, considering the present situation, beriberi today mostly occurs in those with an alcohol use disorder. The disease can be life threatening if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss about the causes, symptoms and diagnosis of beriberi during pregnancy.

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causes of beriberi in pregnancy

In this article:

Symptoms of Beriberi During Pregnancy
Dry Beriberi Symptoms During Pregnancy
Causes of Beriberi During Pregnancy
Who is at Risk?
How it is Diagnosed?
Home Remedies to Treat Beriberi During Pregnancy

A Guide for Beriberi During Pregnancy


Symptoms of Beriberi During Pregnancy

Depending on the type, symptoms of beriberi can vary:

Wet beriberi symptoms:

It affects the heart and circulatory system. IN rare cases, it may even cause a heart failure.

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Swollen lower legs
  • Waking up short of breath
  • Shortness of breath during physical activity

Read More:Vitamin C During Pregnancy- Benefits and Top 21 Food Sources

Dry Beriberi Symptoms During Pregnancy

It damages the nerves and cause decreased muscle strength, further leading to muscle paralysis.

  • Pain
  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Vomiting
  • Paralysis
  • Decreased muscle function, particularly in the lower legs
  • Loss of feeling in the feet and hands
  • Involuntary eye movement

Although rare, but beriberi is also associated with Wernicke-korsakoff syndrome which are basically two forms of brain damage caused by thiamine deficiency. Thalamus and hypothalamus are the regions of the brain that can be damaged by Wernicke encephalopathy.

Confusion, loss of muscle coordination, memory loss and visual problems like rapid eye movement and double vision can be caused due to this condition.

Whereas, Korsakoff syndrome is caused by permanent damage to the region of the brain where the formation of memories take place. This can lead to:

  • Loss of memory
  • Hallucinations
  • Inability to form new memories

Read More:Vitamin B12 During Pregnancy and Foods Rich in Vitamin B12

Causes of Beriberi During Pregnancy

A diet low in thiamine is mainly the cause of beriberi. The disease is most common in those regions where the diet includes unenriched, processed white rice that only consists of a tenth of the amount of thiamine as brown rice. Similarly, the disease is very rare in the regions having access to vitamin-enriched foods, including cereals and bread for breakfast.


Read More:21 Phosphorous Rich Foods You Need During Pregnancy

Who is at Risk of Beri Beri?

There can be a number of factors that can lead to thiamine deficiency:

  • Hyperthyroidism (i.e. an overactive thyroid gland)
  • Extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy
  • AIDS
  • Undergoing kidney dialysis
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Genetic beriberi (which is a condition that prevents the body from absorbing thiamine)
  • Alcohol abuse (making it hard for your body to absorb and store thiamine)

How it is Diagnosed?

There are a series of medical tests that are conducted at first to determine if you have beriberi or not. To measure the levels of thiamine in your body, blood and urine tests will be conducted. A low concentration of thiamine in the blood and a high concentration in the urine is an indication of your body having trouble absorbing thiamine.

On the other hand, a neurological exam will also be performed to check for difficulty walking, lack of coordination, droopy eyelids and weak reflexes. Some people may also show up with confusion, memory loss, delusions who are at the later stages of beriberi.


Similarly, a physical exam will also be performed to look for any heart problems, including swelling of the lower legs, rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing, which are all the symptoms of beriberi.

Home Remedies to Treat Beriberi During Pregnancy

While doctors usually prescribe a proper diet that comprises of more thiamine than is needed by the body, during the recovering state. We have discussed a few of those foods in detail:


You can eat legumes, seeds and nuts frequently as they consist of thiamine in their outer covering.


Milk is a rich source of vitamins and minerals that must be consumed on a regular basis.

Rice Bran

You can boil some rice in an excess of water and then drain the water containing rice extract and collect it in a vessel. The water consists of significant quantities of vitamin B1 and thus, can be consumed rice bran.


Brown Rice

Brown rice is One of the best sources of thiamine, which should also be consumed on a regular basis. however, you must avoid polished rice as they lack vitamin B1.


Herb that is found only in the Philippines. It has been found to be very effective in treating beriberi.

Also, make sure that you consult your doctor before relying on any natural home remedies for treating any disease.


A proper and healthy diet is the main factor in treating beriberi. You must include legumes, rice bran, milk, whole grain, brown bread in your diet and avoid eating fish and drinking water after meals so as to treat and prevent beriberi. However, you must ensure that you consult your doctor as soon as possible in case of any complications. The treatment procedures are very simple and can easily eliminate the initial symptoms of beriberi.



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