New finding on importance of vitamin D during pregnancy
THE importance of women taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy may have been overstated, according to research carried out in Bristol.
A study of 3,960 mothers and their children in the city has shown that vitamin D levels in pregnant women are not linked to the health of their children's bones in later life.
The Children of the 90s research, published online in The Lancet, was the largest ever observational study of the effects of mothers' vitamin D levels in pregnancy on their children's bone health.
The women were assessed for the vitamin D levels during the three trimesters of their pregnancies then when their children were almost ten-years-old their bone mineral content was assessed using a form of x-ray. Lower mineral levels in the bones are associated with diseases such as rickets.
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The study, led by Professor Debbie Lawlor of Bristol University, found no significant association between a mother's vitamin D levels during pregnancy and their child's bone mineral content.
Non-white mothers and those who smoked during pregnancy tended to have lower vitamin D levels overall, but it appeared to have no effect on their children's bone health.
Vitamin D helps to keep a person's bones and teeth healthy by regulating levels of calcium and phosphate in the body. It has been thought that as well as affecting maternal bone health, low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy might lead to problems with the baby's bone formation.
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines in 2008 recommended that all pregnant and breastfeeding women should take a vitamin D supplement every day.
Professor Lawlor said: "We believe that there is no strong evidence that pregnant women should receive vitamin D supplementation to prevent low bone mineral content in their offspring, although we cannot comment on other possible effects of vitamin D in pregnant women."