High Vitamin D levels in pregnancy may protect mother more than baby against MS

November 19, 2012

Pregnant women who have higher levels of vitamin D in their blood may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) than women with lower levels, while their babies may not see the same protective effect, according to a study published in the November 20, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"In our study, and women in general had a lower risk for MS with higher levels of the vitamin, as expected. However, a mother's levels of during did not have an effect on MS risk for her baby," said study author Jonatan Salzer, MD, with Umeå University Hospital in Sweden.

For the study, scientists reviewed information about 291,500 blood samples from 164,000 people collected since 1975 in the northern half of Sweden. Of those, 192 people developed MS an average of nine years after their blood sample was drawn, and there were 37 drawn during pregnancy from mothers whose children went on to develop MS later in life.

The research found that women who had high levels of vitamin D in their blood had a 61 percent lower risk of developing MS, compared to those who had low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Overall, few people had high levels of vitamin D. Only seven of the 192 people who developed MS, or four percent, had high vitamin D levels, compared to 30 of 384 controls without the disease, or eight percent.

No association was found between the mother's vitamin D level and whether her child would later develop MS.

"Since we found no protective effect on the baby for women with higher levels of vitamin D in early pregnancy, our study suggests the protective effect may start in later pregnancy and beyond," said Salzer. "Another interesting finding in our study was that the vitamin D levels became gradually lower with time from 1975 and onward. It is possible that this decline in vitamin D status is linked to the increasing numbers of MS cases seen worldwide."

Sources of vitamin D are diet, supplements and the sun.

Explore further: Poor bone health may start early in people with multiple sclerosis

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Neuroscientists illuminate role of autism-linked gene

May 25, 2016

A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that a gene mutation associated with autism plays a critical role in the formation and maturation of synapses—the connections that allow neurons to communicate with each other.

Study identifies how brain connects memories across time

May 23, 2016

Using a miniature microscope that opens a window into the brain, UCLA neuroscientists have identified in mice how the brain links different memories over time. While aging weakens these connections, the team devised a way ...

Teen brains facilitate recovery from traumatic memories

May 25, 2016

Unique connections in the adolescent brain make it possible to easily diminish fear memories and avoid anxiety later in life, according to a new study by Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. The findings may have important ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.