Higher vitamin D levels in pregnancy could help babies become stronger

Children are likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D in their body during pregnancy, according to new research from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southampton.

Low vitamin D status has been linked to reduced in adults and children, but little is known about how variation in a mother's status during pregnancy affects her child.

Low vitamin D concentrations are common among young women in the UK, and although women are recommended to take an additional 10μg/day of vitamin D in pregnancy, supplementation is often not taken up.

In the research, published in the January edition of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vitamin D levels were measured in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy.

When the children were four years old, grip strength and were measured. Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced association between mother's vitamin D and child's muscle mass.

Lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the MRC LEU at the University of Southampton, comments: "These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures. It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age."

The 678 women who took part in the study are part of the Southampton Women's Survey, one of the largest and best characterised such studies globally.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC LEU at the University of Southampton, who oversaw this work, added: "This study forms part of a larger programme of research at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and University of Southampton in which we are seeking to understand how factors such as diet and lifestyle in the mother during pregnancy influence a child's body composition and bone development. This work should help us to design interventions aimed at optimising body composition in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obese moms risk having babies with low vitamin D

Jan 07, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Women who are obese at the start of their pregnancy may be passing on insufficient levels of vitamin D to their babies, according to a new Northwestern Medicine® study.

Recommended for you

Study highlights concern for homeless seniors

3 minutes ago

A new study for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, co-authored by researchers at the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University, has found that a disproportionate number of people chronically staying ...

Mateship key to boosting resilient youth

34 minutes ago

Having a supportive friend who is connected to their family and greater community can be the critical factor that protects and promotes resilience in vulnerable Aboriginal youth, according to research from ...

Here's to wine, chocolate and a long, healthy life

2 hours ago

Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122, remains the oldest person on record. One might assume that she led a faultless, healthy lifestyle. Not at all. Every year on her birthday, as her celebri ...

Experts discuss communications gap on vaccines

3 hours ago

The number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children is on the rise, and with it the incidence of preventable diseases such as measles. The health community could reverse the trend by doing a better ...

User comments