Prenatal vitamin D pills won't boost babies' growth: study

August 9, 2018 by Steven Reinberg, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—For pregnant women who are vitamin D-deficient, vitamin supplements won't improve the growth of their fetus or infant, Canadian researchers report.

The study was done in Bangladesh, where D deficiency is common among women of reproductive age, and where 30 percent of newborns are small and the growth of 36 percent of infants under 5 is stunted.

Some studies have suggested that improving vitamin D levels might help babies' growth by building bone and increasing an insulin-like growth factor, the researchers explained.

But this trial, using prenatal and postpartum vitamin D supplementation, showed it didn't make a difference.

"At this time, the WHO [World Health Organization] does not recommend routine vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy," the researchers concluded in the study. "The present findings support this position, even in communities where vitamin D deficiency and fetal-infant growth restriction are endemic."

The research involved a team led by Dr. Daniel Roth from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, who randomly assigned 1,300 Bangladeshi women to receive various doses of vitamin D during their pregnancy. Some women received vitamin D supplements only during pregnancy, while others also received supplements for 26 weeks after giving birth. Another group of women were given a placebo.

Among more than 1,160 infants examined a year after being born, the investigators found no difference in their average size for their age, whether their mothers took vitamin D supplements or a placebo during pregnancy.

In addition, no difference was seen in other outcomes, such as calcium levels, vitamin D levels or maternal parathyroid hormone levels, the findings showed.

No significant side effects were seen among women taking vitamin D supplements. Some women taking the highest doses of the , however, may have had high levels of calcium in their urine, which could lead to kidney stones, the study authors noted.

Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that although supplemental vitamin D doesn't seem to help the baby, it may be beneficial to the mother.

"For women who are vitamin D-deficient and calcium-deficient, D can have an impact on their bones," said Wu, who had no role in the study. "So we want to make sure the mother's vitamin D levels are normal."

Another expert also stressed the value of the vitamin.

"What this study says is that in Bangladeshi , vitamin D supplementation from mid-pregnancy did not influence fetal or post-natal growth," said Dr. Michael Grosso, chair of pediatrics at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

But, he added, vitamin D is an important nutrient "with implications for bone metabolism and growth throughout childhood."

Vitamin D is important for cell growth and neuromuscular and immune function, and to reduce inflammation, Grosso added.

"Negative studies are important, but each is only one building block in the scientific knowledge that underlies rational public policy and clinical practice," he said.

The report was published Aug. 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Explore further: No need for high-dose vitamin D in infants: study

More information: Michael Grosso, M.D., chair, pediatrics and chief medical officer, Huntington Hospital, Huntington, N.Y.; Jennifer Wu, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Aug. 9, 2018, New England Journal of Medicine, Abstract/Full Text

For more on vitamin D, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Related Stories

No need for high-dose vitamin D in infants: study

May 29, 2018
Tripling the dose of vitamin D supplementation for babies does not make their bones any stronger by age two, according to a study in Finland published Tuesday.

Vitamin D deficiency affects many pregnant women

July 5, 2018
One in three pregnant women in Norway has a vitamin D deficiency at the end of her pregnancy, a major study published earlier this year in PLOS One has shown.

Customized vitamin D supplements may benefit pregnant women

October 27, 2016
Individualized supplement doses help protect pregnant women from vitamin D deficiency, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Insufficient evidence to guide recommendations on vitamin D in pregnancy

November 29, 2017
There is currently insufficient evidence to guide recommendations on the use of vitamin D supplements in pregnancy, conclude researchers in The BMJ today.

Calcium, vitamin D don't seem to reduce fracture risk in seniors

December 27, 2017
(HealthDay)—For community-dwelling older adults, supplementation with calcium, vitamin D, or both does not reduce the incidence of fractures, according to a review published in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of the American ...

Increasing nursing mothers' vitamin D levels may benefit babies

August 30, 2016
New research from the University of Otago has found that giving breastfeeding mothers monthly high-dose vitamin D supplements may be a possible way to improve their babies' vitamin D status.

Recommended for you

The inequalities of prenatal stress

August 14, 2018
Exposure to an acute stress in utero can have long-term consequences extending into childhood – but only among children in poor households, according to a new Stanford study that looked at the long-term impact of acute, ...

Promoting HPV vaccine doesn't prompt risky sex by teens: study

August 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Controversial state laws that promote vaccinating kids against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not increase the likelihood that teens will engage in risky sexual behavior, a new study contends.

Grip strength of children gives clues about their future health

August 13, 2018
While other studies have shown that muscle weakness as measured by grip strength is a predictor of unhealthy outcomes—including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, disability and even early mortality—this is the first ...

Prenatal vitamin D pills won't boost babies' growth: study

August 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—For pregnant women who are vitamin D-deficient, vitamin supplements won't improve the growth of their fetus or infant, Canadian researchers report.

Giving kids plates with segments and pictures caused them to eat more vegetables

August 8, 2018
A pair of researchers at the University of Colorado has found that preschool kids ate more vegetables when presented with segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on them. In their paper published in JAMA Pediatrics, ...

Is too much screen time harming children's vision?

August 6, 2018
As children spend more time tethered to screens, there is increasing concern about potential harm to their visual development. Ophthalmologists—physicians who specialize in medical and surgical eye care—are seeing a marked ...

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.