Children's body fat linked to Vitamin D insufficiency in mothers

May 23, 2012

Children are more likely to have more body fat during childhood if their mother has low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy, according to scientists at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU), University of Southampton.

Low status has been linked to obesity in adults and , but little is known about how variation in a mother's status affects the of her child.

Low vitamin D status is common among young in the UK, and although women are recommended to take an additional 10μg/day of vitamin D in , supplementation is currently not routine.

In new research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition today (May 23, 2012), at the MRC LEU, University of Southampton, have compared the vitamin D status of 977 pregnant women with the body composition of their children. The findings from this study showed that the children who were born to who had low vitamin D status in pregnancy had more body fat when they were six years old. These differences could not be explained by other factors such as mother's weight gain in pregnancy, or how physically active the children were. The 977 women are part of the Southampton Women's Survey, one of the largest women's surveys in the UK.

Dr Siân Robinson, Principal Research Fellow, at the University, who led the study, says: "In the context of current concerns about low vitamin D status in , and increasing rates of childhood obesity in the UK, we need to understand more about the long-term health consequences for children who are born to mothers who have low vitamin D status.

"Although there is growing evidence that vitamin D status is linked to body fatness in children and adults, this research now suggests that the mother's status in pregnancy could be important too.

"An interpretation of our data is that there could be programmed effects on the fetus arising from a lack of maternal vitamin D that remain with the baby and predispose him or her to gain excess body fat in later childhood. Although further studies are needed, our findings add weight to current concerns about the prevalence of low vitamin D status among women of reproductive age."

This study is part of a wider body of work by the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit into how factors during pregnancy might have a long-term influence on childhood growth and development.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC LEU comments: "This is a wonderful example of multi-disciplinary research using the unique clinical and biochemical resource provided by the Southampton Women's Survey. The observations that maternal vitamin D insufficiency might be associated with reduced size at birth, but accelerated gain in during early childhood, add to the considerable amount of evidence suggesting that vitamin D status during pregnancy may have critical effects on the later health of offspring."

Explore further: Pregnant women in Vancouver may not be getting enough vitamin D

Related Stories

Pregnant women in Vancouver may not be getting enough vitamin D

August 11, 2011
Pregnant women taking prenatal supplements may not be getting enough vitamin D, shows a new Vancouver-based study led by the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children's Hospital that was published in the Canadian Journal ...

Recommended for you

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

In a nutshell: Walnuts activate brain region involved in appetite control

August 17, 2017
Packed with nutrients linked to better health, walnuts are also thought to discourage overeating by promoting feelings of fullness. Now, in a new brain imaging study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) ...

Energy dense foods may increase cancer risk regardless of obesity status

August 17, 2017
Diet is believed to play a role in cancer risk. Current research shows that an estimated 30% of cancers could be prevented through nutritional modifications. While there is a proven link between obesity and certain types ...

Technology is changing Generation smartphone, and not always for the better

August 16, 2017
It's easy to imagine some graybeard long ago weighing in on how this new generation, with all its fancy wheels, missed out on the benefits of dragging stuff from place to place.

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.