Maternal vitamin D intake increases child's bone density years later

Discussion in 'Food and nutrition' started by Juhana Harju, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. Juhana Harju

    Juhana Harju Guest

    *Vitamin D 'makes stronger babies'*

    Giving pregnant women vitamin D could mean their babies grow stronger bones
    in later life, a study suggests.
    A study of 198 mothers indicated the children of those who lacked the
    vitamin, crucial for calcium absorption, had weaker bones at nine.

    Those who took supplements or were exposed to more sunlight, which helps the
    body grow its own vitamin D, had children with greater bone densities.

    The research from Southampton General Hospital is published in the Lancet.

    This is completely new - no one has ever looked at the mother's vitamin D
    levels before
    Professor Cyrus Cooper

    Professor Cyrus Cooper, who led the team, said the findings provided
    evidence that maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy influenced the bone
    growth of offspring and their risk of osteoporosis in later life.

    He told the BBC News it was the vitamin deficiency of the mother carrying
    the child, rather than the baby in early life, which affected the child's
    bone strength later.

    Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium which is in itself key in
    the formation of healthy bones.

    The team from the Medical Research Council's Epidemiological Resource Centre
    at Southampton General Hospital measured the levels of vitamin D in women's
    blood in late pregnancy as well as studying calcium levels in the babies'
    cord blood.

    Supplement warning

    This showed how vitamin D had helped calcium transfer across the placenta.

    Nine years after the babies' delivery, the team traced 198 of the original
    596 mothers who remained in the Southampton area and measured their
    children's bone mineral content and bone mineral density.

    Professor Cooper now wants to carry out a study to see whether
    supplementation of vitamin D deficient pregnant mothers could lead to
    stronger bones in their babies in later life.

    Professor James Walker of the Royal College of Obstetricians and
    Gynaecologists said the study demonstrated the importance of having adequate
    levels of vitamin D in pregnancy, both for the mother and her baby.

    But he said it demonstrated that women who had adequate vitamin D levels
    were fine, and it was "only when levels were deficient that there was a

    "More vitamin D is not necessarily good," he said. "Therefore, no woman
    should take extra vitamin D in pregnancy unless recommended by their

    Jackie Parrington, spokeswoman for the National Osteoporosis Society, said
    the research was important as it showed the need to look after one's bones
    started at an earlier age than had previously been thought.

    "Maintaining bone health is important throughout life. Regular weight
    bearing exercise and a healthy balanced diet are all essential for keeping
    our skeletons strong as are stopping smoking and not drinking heavily," she

    Osteoporosis, which costs the NHS £5 million a day, affects half of women
    and one in five men over 50 in the UK. It results in bones becoming so
    porous that they can break very easily.

    Published: 2006/01/06 00:39:37 GMT