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Vitamin D supply during pregnancy may influence the bone mass of children

December 6, 2013

According to a new study from Australia, vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women could be associated with lower peak bone mass and higher fracture risk in the offspring in later life.

The observational study assessed serum vitamin D levels at 18 weeks into the pregnancy of 341 women and measured bone mineral density (BMD) in their children at 20 years of age (1). The study results showed that the mean maternal serum vitamin D concentration was only 22.88 ng/mL, and 38.7% of the women were deficient (defined as below 20 ng/mL). 20 years later, the children of the vitamin D deficient women at that time had significantly lower total body BMD values, compared to the offspring of mothers with sufficient vitamin D supply.

The researchers commented that these findings do not verify if vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy cau- ses lower BMD in children years later. For instance, low vitamin D levels could be a marker for poor overall family health and habits. Future research should clarify the relationship between the two factors. Vitamin D plays a role in bone health because it helps to absorb calcium. To date, it is not clear how much vitamin D affects bone density, both early and later in life. Bone growth during childhood is critical to ensure strong, healthy bones later in life, and to reduce the risk of osteoporosis when elderly. In childhood, bone formation occurs faster than bone breakdown. After the age of 30, however, this process reverses. Thus, it is important to build a lot of bone during childhood and young adulthood.

References

  1. Zhu K. et. al. Maternal Vitamin D Status During Pregnancy and Bone Mass in Offspring at 20 Years of Age: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. Published online November 2013.