High levels of vitamin D linked to lower birth problems, study finds

Study by University College Cork calls for guidelines on nutrition for pregnant women

High vitamin D status is associated with lower risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia and small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth

High vitamin D status is associated with lower risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia and small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth

 

Expecting mothers with high levels of vitamin D are less likely to have serious pregnancy complications, new Irish research indicates.

High vitamin D status is associated with lower risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia and small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth, according to the study by scientists in University College Cork.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found 17 per cent of pregnant women had a Vitamin D deficiency among almost 1,800 who were surveyed. This compared to 12 per cent among women who were not pregnant.

The researchers say their findings highlight the need for national guidelines on nutritional intake, include Vitamin D levels, or pregnant women.

“The data highlights the need to conduct nutrition research in vulnerable populations, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding women and children, in order to develop life-stage specific recommendations for nutrient intakes,” according to Prof Mairead Kiely.

“Currently in Ireland, there are no pregnancy-specific guidelines for vitamin D intake.”

The study surveyed 1,786 mothers who attended Cork University Maternity Hospital and was designed to explore whether there was a connection between vitamin D status in early pregnancy and any major pregnancy complications.

Vitamin D is produced in the body by exposure of the skin to sunlight. It is also found in oily fish, egg yolks and fortified foods such as milk, breakfast cereals and infant formula.