Lack of Vitamin D detrimental to unborn children

Posted: 12 July 2017 | | 1 comment

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women has a impacts the social development and motor skills of pre-school age children. 


A new study in the British Journal of Nutrition examined data gathered from over 7,000 mothers and their children. Conducted by researchers from the University of Sussex and the University of Bristol, the study found that women with less than 50 nmol per litre in blood of vitamin D were more likely to have children with low scores in tests for motor development. The tests took place when the children were aged 2 years 6 months old. These tests assess co-ordination through activities such as kicking a ball, balancing, jumping and building towers of bricks. 

Insufficient levels of vitamin D in pregnancy was also found to affect a child’s social development a year later. However, no associations were found in children aged 7 to 9, who were tested for IQ scores and reading ability. 

Previous evidence from animal studies had demonstrated that the neuro-cognitive development of foetuses is negatively impacted when mothers have low levels of vitamin D. Researchers hypothesise that the interactions between vitamin D and the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a crucial role in the parts of the brain which control motor and social development. 

In addition to these findings vitamin D, which is derived from food and sunlight, also regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which is vital in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Sufficient vitamin D may also be associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, infectious and autoimmune disease and diabetes.

Lead author Dr Andrea Darling from the University of Surrey, said: “The importance of vitamin D sufficiency should not be underestimated. It is well-known to be good for our musculoskeletal systems, but our research shows that if levels are low in expectant mothers, it can affect the development of their children in their early years of life.

“Vitamin D is found in oily fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna) and in small amounts of red meat, eggs, fortified fat spreads and some breakfast cereals.  However, unless a large portion of oily fish (100g) is eaten daily it is difficult to get the recommended daily intake of 10 micrograms per day from food alone.   

“Many pregnant women, especially those from minority groups with darker skin (e.g. African, African-Caribbean or South Asian), will still need to take a 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement daily, particularly in the autumn and winter when vitamin D cannot be made from the sun in the UK.” However, it is important to remember that ‘more is not necessarily better’ and it is important not to take too much vitamin D from supplements as it can be toxic in very high doses”.

One response to “Lack of Vitamin D detrimental to unborn children”

  1. Marc says:

    It has long been known that vitamin D deficiency has an effect on mentality in both mice and humans. The reason for widespread vitamin D deficiency is the lifestyle that keeps us out of the sunlight. Here are a few more facts regarding the importance of sun exposure:

    Increased sun exposure is not the reason for increased melanoma! Outdoor work has decreased by 90% in the last century, while melanoma has increased by 3,000%. It is not sun exposure that causes health problems; it is sun deprivation. The latest research shows that sunscreen use is leading to widespread vitamin D deficiency, and sun deprivation, not sun exposure, is leading to 336,000 deaths yearly. There has also been an 8,300% increase in vitamin D deficiency in children since 2000, which is likely due to insufficient time playing outdoors and/or sunscreen use. So you see, all of this “protection” may be fatal. Get your sunshine, produce vitamin D be smart. Here are more facts you should know about the importance of sun exposure for health:
    •A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
    •Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce up to 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure around noon
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    • Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, which is vital to human health.

    For references and articles:

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