While maintaining a good levels of Vitamin D is recommended for everyone, it is especially important for moms-to-be. The lack of this vital element during pregnancy is not only serious for the expectant mom but according to a new research it might be worse for their growing baby.
British researchers have found that women who are pregnant but not getting enough sunshine which helps in the formation of Vitamin D in the body, have a higher risk of having babies who may get neurological conditions in later life.
During their study it was found that the lack of Vitamin D may affect how a baby’s central nervous system and immune system develops. Babies born in April-May had five percent more chances of developing Multiple Sclerosis(MS) because these mothers giving birth during the early summer months would have less exposure to the sun light during their pregnancy.
The research team also noted that mother’s who were expecting during the summer and giving birth during October-November had five percent lower chances of their babies developing the neurological disorder.
Nearly 100,000 people in UK suffer from Multiple Sclerosis and previous studies have shown that higher level of Vitamin D in the body might prevent it.
According to the Daily Mail the latest study compared data on almost 152,000 people with MS with expected birth rates for the disease to explore the effect of the month of birth on the risk. They pooled previously published data on month of birth and MS cases, and included countries such as Britain at latitudes 52 degrees and greater from the equator.
Because countries like Britain are further away from the equator and do not get as much sunlight, they have higher number of MS cases. The cases of diabetes, asthma and heart diseases in babies is also higher linked to low Vitamin D in early life.
Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan, of Queen Mary University of London, Blizard Institute says that the study confirms how important it is to give pregnant women a vitamin D supplement.
He said, “Around 90 per cent of women are vitamin D deficient during the winter months which means pregnant women are especially at risk. Research has been pointing this was for years but this is the biggest study of its kind. It may only be a small effect but it is now proven.”
“Taking supplements of 1,000 iu (international units) of vitamin D a day cannot do pregnant women any harm, and it is likely to reduce the incidence of this devastating disease’ he added, according the Daily Mail report.
The findings have been published in the the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
Dr Ramagopalan said the notion that vitamin D deficiency contributed to MS was first aired in the 1960s.
‘It was laughed at’ he said. ‘No one could believe a simple vitamin would have this sort of impact. It is only by consistent replication of studies showing a link that we can say it is a genuine one.”
‘We believe the Government should get behind this and tell midwives and pregnant women that taking supplements can have health benefits for the baby’ he said.
Oliver Gillie of the Health Research Forum, who campaigns for greater awareness of vitamin D benefits says,
He said ‘The Government needs to ensure local authorities take this on board, it’s a very cheap way of improving health.
Official policy in the UK says that pregnant moms should take Vitamin D supplements but few doctors advise them to do so. Gillie feels if more supplements were taken it could solve the possibility of MS drastically.