A study of more than 2,000 pregnant women showed that vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy raises the risk of delivering babies with lower birth weight.
According to a Medical Daily report, 2,146 pregnant women were tested for vitamin D levels and those with insufficient level of vitamin D during the 26 weeks of pregnancy delivered babies who weighed 46 grams less than their peers.
“A mother’s vitamin D level early in pregnancy may impact the growth of her baby later in pregnancy. Also, if the mother was deficient in vitamin D during the first trimester, her baby had twice the risk of suffering from growth restriction in utero,” said Alison Gernand, from Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and lead author of the study.
Low birth weight poses dangers to both the mother and the baby. Mothers of low birth weight babies are said to be at greater risk of having postpartum depression, plus they need longer time before returning to work in order to care for their babies’ health needs. Meanwhile, babies born small for gestational age are at five to ten times greater risk for death in their first month and have a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, later in life. In addition, low birth weight babies are more likely to have learning difficulties and vision problems.
“This is one of the largest studies to examine a mother’s vitamin D levels and their relationship with birth weights. It shows that clinical trials to determine if you can improve birth weights by giving women of reproductive age vitamin D supplements may be warranted,” said Lisa M. Bodnar, from Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology and senior author of the study.