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Vitamin D may be critical for infant brain development

September 26, 2012

According to a new Spanish study, vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy could hinder infants' brain and motor development.

In the observational study, the blood vitamin D concentrations of 1,820 mothers were measured during pregnancy and their infants' mental and psychomotor scores were noted at 14 months of age (1). The study results showed that the average vitamin D level of the mothers during pregnancy was 29.6 ng/mL. Twenty percent of the women were vitamin D deficient, while another 32% showed insufficient vitamin D levels. After adjusting for confounders such as birth weight, maternal age, mother’s level of education, and whether the mother smoke or drank during pregnancy, the researchers found that infants whose mothers' vitamin D levels were above 30 ng/mL displayed higher mental and psychomotor scores when compared with infants of mothers with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL.

The researchers commented that the measured differences in the mental and psychomotor development scores would not be likely to make any difference at the individual level, but might have an important impact on a wider scale, e.g., at population level. A recently published review confirms that more than one third of all the populations studied in the developing and industrialized world show insufficient levels of vitamin D (2).

References

  1. Morales E. et al. Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 in pregnancy and infant neuropsychological development. Pediatrics. Published online September 2012.
  2. Wahl D. A. et al. A Global Representation of Vitamin D status in healthy populations. Archives of Osteoporosis. Published online August 2012.