Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy may increase risk of MS in children

March 7, 2016

Children of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy appeared to be at greater risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) in adulthood, according to an article published online by JAMA Neurology.

While elevated levels of vitamin D have been associated with a decreased risk of MS in adulthood, some previous research also has suggested that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for MS in later life.

Kassandra L. Munger, Sc.D., of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, and coauthors examined whether serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels in were associated with the risk of MS in children.

The authors identified 193 individuals (163 of them female) with a diagnosis of MS whose mothers were part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort and matched 176 case patients with 326 control participants for comparison.

The majority of maternal blood samples (70 percent) to measure 25(OH)D levels had been collected during the first trimester and the average maternal vitamin D levels were in the insufficient vitamin D range.

The risk of MS as an adult was 90 percent higher in children of mothers who were vitamin-D deficient (25(OH)D levels less than 12.02 ng/mL) compared with the children of mothers who were not vitamin D deficient, according to the results.

The authors note that two prior studies examining the association between 25(OH)D levels in pregnancy/early life did not find an association with future MS risk in children. In the current study, the authors note a few limitations, including that maternal 25(OH)D levels during pregnancy are not a direct measure of the 25(OH)D levels to which the developing fetus is exposed.

The study concludes that "while our results suggest that D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of 25(OH)D sufficiency. Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of 25(OH)D are needed."

"The study was made possible by biobanking efforts in Finland as part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC). ... When the FMC was established, it was not intended to create a resource for MS research, but its existence has created a powerful tool for understanding complex biology and disease," writes Benjamin M. Greenberg, M.D., M.H.S., of the University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, in a related editorial.

Explore further: Vitamin D-rich foods during pregnancy may reduce allergy risk in children

More information: JAMA Neurol. Published online March 7, 2016. DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2015.4800
JAMA Neurol. Published online March 7, 2016. DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0018

Related Stories

Maternal B12 levels impact children's cardiometabolic health

February 12, 2016

(HealthDay)—Mothers' vitamin B12 levels in early pregnancy may impact children's cardiometabolic risk factors at age 5 years, according to a study published in the February issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics ...

Taking vitamin D may benefit people with multiple sclerosis

December 30, 2015

Taking a high dose of vitamin D3 is safe for people with multiple sclerosis and may help regulate the body's hyperactive immune response, according to a pilot study published by Johns Hopkins physicians in the Dec. 30 online ...

Recommended for you

How lying takes our brains down a 'slippery slope'

October 24, 2016

Telling small lies desensitises our brains to the associated negative emotions and may encourage us to tell bigger lies in future, reveals new UCL research funded by Wellcome and the Center for Advanced Hindsight.

Robotic tutors for primary school children

October 24, 2016

The use of robotic tutors in primary school classrooms is one step closer according to research recently published in the open access journal Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience.

Mouse decision-making more complex than once thought

October 24, 2016

Working with dot-counting mice running through a virtual-reality maze, scientists from Harvard Medical School have found that in order to navigate space rodent brains rely on a cascade of neural signals that culminate in ...

Rat brain atlas provides MR images for stereotaxic surgery

October 21, 2016

Boris Odintsov, senior research scientist at the Biomedical Imaging Center at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and Thomas Brozoski, research professor ...


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.