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Vitamin D deficiency linked to problems in pregnancy

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can lead to complications both for the mother and the fetus.

Vitamin D deficiency linked to problems in pregnancy

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can lead to complications both for the mother and the fetus. Deficiency of vitamin D during pregnancy has been linked with a number of serious short and long-term health problems in the offspring, including impaired growth, skeletal problems, type 1 (or insulin-dependent) diabetes, asthma and schizophrenia. Low levels of vitamin D in expectant mothers can also increase their risk of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia is a condition of pregnancy that usually begins with high blood pressure. The disorder may also lead to seizures, kidney failure or stroke. It slows the growth of the fetus, can cause early delivery and can be fatal for the mother and the infant. Its cause is unknown and there is no treatment, except to manage the symptoms. To assess the relationship between vitamin D and pre-eclampsia, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh measured vitamin D levels in banked sera from 55 pregnant women who developed pre-eclampsia and from 219 who did not. The average vitamin D level for women who developed pre-eclampsia was 45.4 nmol/L compared with 53.1 nmol/L in the control group. The results showed that women who developed pre-eclampsia had vitamin D concentrations that were significantly lower early in pregnancy compared to women whose pregnancies were normal. Even though, vitamin D deficiency was common in both groups, the deficiency was more prevalent among those who went on to develop pre-eclampsia. It was also found that the risk of pre-eclampsia increased with decreasing levels of vitamin D in early pregnancy. Thus, vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy can be explored as a safe and effective means of preventing pre-eclampsia and promoting well-being of the newborn.
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism,
September 2007
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