advertisement
08 August 2019

How does sunshine during pregnancy affect a child's learning later in life?

Clinical trials will confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy could reduce the risk of learning disabilities in children.

Kids whose moms don't get enough sunshine during pregnancy may be more likely to develop learning difficulties, researchers report.

The finding stems from data on more than 422 000 school-aged children in Scotland. Low levels of exposure to UVB rays – but not UVA sunlight – during the entire pregnancy was linked to learning disabilities later on.

Because only UVB rays were implicated, the researchers suspect the effect relates to insufficient vitamin D production.

Preventing learning disabilities

Exposure to vitamin D in the first trimester of pregnancy is essential for foetal brain development, the researchers said.

The percentage of kids with learning disabilities varied by month of conception. It ranged from nearly 17% among children conceived in July to 21% among those conceived in February, March and April, when exposure to sunlight is less. However, the study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"Learning disabilities can have profound life-long effects on both the affected child and their family. The importance of our study is that it suggests a possible way to prevent learning disabilities in some children," said lead author Jill Pell, director of the University of Glasgow's Institute of Health and Wellbeing.

"Clinical trials are now needed to confirm whether taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy could reduce the risk of learning disabilities," she said in a university news release.

The report was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Image credit: iStock

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Live healthier

Lifestyle »

E-cigarettes: Here are five things to know

E-cigarettes have become hugely popular in the past decade, but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the US is feeding caution about a product that's already banned in some places.

Allergy »

Ditch the itch: Researchers find new drug to fight hives

A new drug works by targeting an immune system antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for the allergic reaction that causes hives.

advertisement