Obese moms risk having babies with low vitamin D

January 7, 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.

The study found that born to lean mothers had a third higher amount of compared to babies born to obese moms.

Vitamin D is fat-soluble, and previous studies have found that people who are obese tend to have lower levels of the vitamin in their blood. In this study, both obese and lean mothers had very similar levels of vitamin D at the end of their pregnancies, yet transferred less vitamin D to their compared to lean women.

"Nearly all of mothers in this study reported taking , which may be the reason why their own vitamin D levels were sufficient, but the babies born to the had reduced levels of vitamin D," said Jami L. Josefson, M.D., first author of the study. "It's possible that vitamin D may get sequestered in excess fat and not transferred sufficiently from an obese to her baby."

Josefson is an assistant professor of at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

It is unknown what health risks babies born with vitamin D insufficiency may face. Recent studies have linked low vitamin D in adults to an increase in autoimmune diseases, inflammation and obesity.

The study, published Jan. 4 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, was designed as part of a longer-term project to investigate whether body fat at birth is a predictor of body fat in later childhood and adulthood. Because vitamin D deficiency is associated with a host of health conditions, including obesity, the researchers included the analysis of the mothers' and babies' vitamin D levels.

Sixty-one women who gave birth at Prentice Women's Hospital of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago participated in the study. They all had pre- body mass indexes that were either normal or obese.

Vitamin D levels were measured from blood collected from mothers at 36 to 38 weeks gestation and umbilical cord blood was collected from their babies immediately following birth. Body fat, weight and volume of the babies were also measured with air displacement plethysmography using the Pea Pod Infant Body Composition System.

"The range of body fat of the babies in this study was similar to other studies reporting neonatal body fat," Josefson said. "What was novel about this study was that we found babies born with higher vitamin D levels had more body fat. That's in contrast to studies in children and adults who have an inverse relationship between levels of vitamin D and body fat, where the higher their vitamin D, the lower their fat."

Josefson said more research needs to be done on the role vitamin D may play in the health of babies, and she plans to continue studying this sample again to follow up on the babies' health outcomes.

"Obese women may need larger amounts of vitamin D supplementation to provide their babies with sufficient levels of vitamin D while they are in the womb," Josefson said.

This study underscores the importance of understanding the evolving relationships between maternal obesity, vitamin D nutritional status and in the neonatal period, childhood and adulthood, Josefson said.

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

Related Stories

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), ...

Excessive pregnancy weight gain raises the risk of having a fat baby

June 7, 2011
Women who gain too much weight during pregnancy tend to have newborns with a high amount of body fat, regardless of the mother's weight before pregnancy, a new study finds. The results will be presented Tuesday at The Endocrine ...

Mother's vitamin D level linked to birth weight

December 10, 2012
Mothers' vitamin D levels at a gestation of 26 weeks or less were positively related to birth weight and head circumference, and, in the first trimester were negatively associated with risk of a baby being born small for ...

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 ...

Low vitamin D levels may contribute to development of Type 2 diabetes

December 5, 2011
A recent study of obese and non-obese children found that low vitamin D levels are significantly more prevalent in obese children and are associated with risk factors for type 2 diabetes. This study was accepted for publication ...

Recommended for you

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

New study finds more than 2 billion people overweight or obese

June 12, 2017
Globally, more than 2 billion children and adults suffer from health problems related to being overweight or obese, and an increasing percentage of people die from these health conditions, according to a new study.

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.