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Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is relatively common and may cause significant adverse health issues for both mother and child. Studied health issues associated with low vitamin D status during pregnancy include preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, post postpartum depression and low birth weight.

A study published this month in Clinical Endocrinology reports that having given birth two or more times, giving birth to more than one child at a time (e.g. twins), and non-tanned skin are significant risk factors for vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy.

Researchers recruited 1,348 pregnant women from the prospective “Odense Child Cohort.” The women completed a questionnaire reporting skin tone, country of birth, pregnancy height and weight, and sun exposure habits. Information about the women’s body mass index (BMI), smoking habits and the number of pregnancies were taken from examination notes. Between the 8th and 16th week of gestation, blood samples were drawn to assess vitamin D status.

The research found that 27.8% of the participants were vitamin D insufficient, while 3.5% were deficient or severely deficient. Notably the researchers considered vitamin D insufficiency as < 20 ng/ml and deficiency < 10 ng/ml. If the authors used a cutoff point of 30 ng/ml (the more usual insufficiency cut off point), 70% of participants would be considered insufficient.

In adjusted analyses predictors of vitamin D insufficiency were winter season, increased BMI and smoking, whereas having a self-reported ‘darker white’ skin compared to ‘pale white’ or ‘white’ and being nulliparous (first pregnancy) were protective.

It should be noted that the study did not contain information on supplementation and dietary vitamin D intake.

The researchers suggest that evaluation of current supplement guidelines is needed to decrease the risk of health problems as a result of D deficiency during pregnancy.

Andersen L et al. Parity and tanned white skin as novel predictors of vitamin d status in early pregnancy: A population-based cohort study. Clinical Endocrinology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cen.12147.

Categories: Nutritional News, Children's Health