advertisement
31 March 2013

Vitamin D important during pregnancy

Low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may raise risk for complications, researchers find.

Low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of complications in mothers-to-be and low birth weight in their newborns, a new study finds.

The research shows an association but doesn't prove that insufficient vitamin D causes complications. Still, taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce these risks, the researchers noted.

Researchers examined data from 31 studies published between 1980 and 2012. The studies had between 95 and 1 100 participants.

The analysis revealed that pregnant women with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) and preeclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine). They were also more likely to have a low birth weight baby.

The findings are "concerning" given recent evidence that low levels of vitamin D are common during pregnancy, particularly among vegetarians, women with limited sun exposure and those with darker skin, the researchers said.

The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Other sources include supplements and certain types of foods, such as fish. Milk is usually fortified with vitamin D.

While the study identified a significant association between low vitamin D levels and an increased risk for pregnancy complications, further research is need to determine whether programmes to boost vitamin D levels in pregnant women would reduce those risks, the researchers at the University of Calgary in Canada wrote.

The findings support a goal of ensuring that all pregnant women have adequate levels of vitamin D, according to an accompanying editorial by Robyn Lucas, of the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra.

She said that vitamin D "supplements, diet and sunlight exposure" are all measures that "should be used together, with care." Large, well-controlled studies are still needed to clarify the association between too little vitamin D in pregnancy and birth complications, she said in a journal news release.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more about vitamin D and health

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Teen angst »

Detecting depression: Phone apps could monitor teen angst

Studies have linked heavy smartphone use with worsening teen mental health. But as teens scroll through Instagram and Snapchat, tap out texts or watch YouTube videos, they also leave digital footprints that might offer clues to their psychological well-being.

Lifestyle changes »

Lifestyle changes helped new dad shed more than 20kg

Erik Minaya started to put on the kilos during his first year year in college. By age 24, he tipped the scale at nearly 120kg. But then he cut out fast food, replacing it with lower-carb offerings that he prepared himself.