vitamin D during pregnancy improves bone health in babies born in winter

Expecting a baby this winter? Taking vitamin D may not always help, but it will help now.

Research on the effect of taking vitamin D while pregnant on your baby’s bone health has been inconsistent. And now we may know why. It might matter what season you are giving birth in.

Sunlight is crucial for manufacturing vitamin D. Your baby’s bones do a lot of their strengthening during the last part of pregnancy. So, if the last part of your pregnancy is during the dark days of winter, you may have low vitamin D levels, and, so, so might your baby.

When 1,134 pregnant women were given either 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day or a placebo in a double-blind study, their levels of vitamin D went up. When measured late in pregnancy—when most of the transfer from mother to child for bone development happens—80% of the women on vitamin D had satisfactory levels of vitamin D compared to only 35% of the placebo group.

That made no difference to the bone mass of the babies, though. Until the researchers looked closer. When the baby was born during the winter, they had significantly greater bone mass if their mother took vitamin D: mean bone mass was 63g in the vitamin D babies but only 57.5g in the placebo babies.

Because previous research has shown that bone mass at birth may be a predictor of the health of your bones later in life, this could be a very important study. Taking vitamin D while your pregnant may help your child not to have osteoporosis when he or she is older.

There are other benefits to your baby to taking vitamin D during pregnancy too, like preventing preterm births.


The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology 2016;doi:10.1016/S2213-8587(16)00044-9



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