Vitamin D: crucial for maintaining a healthy pregnancy

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Sat 02/01/2014

Women who are deficient in vitamin D in the first 26 weeks of their pregnancy may be at risk of developing severe preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a potentially life threatening disorder diagnosed by an increase in blood pressure and protein in the urine. Vitamin D – not just for bones Researchers looked at blood samples of women who later developed preeclampsia in order to determine the association between vitamin D deficiency and the disorder. “For decades, vitamin D was known as a nutrient that was important only for bone health,” explained lead author Lisa Bodnar, PhD, MPH, RD, associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “Over the past 10 to 15 years, scientists have learned that vitamin D has diverse functions in the body beyond maintaining the skeleton, including actions that may be important for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.” They compared these blood samples with those from women who did not develop preeclampsia. These samples were collected between 1959 and 1965 for the Collaborative Perinatal Project and well preserved. They found that vitamin D sufficiency was associated with a 40% reduction in risk of severe preeclampsia. There was no relationship between mild preeclampsia and vitamin D. Different causes for mild and severe preeclampsia “Scientists believe that severe preeclampsia and mild preeclampsia have different root causes,” explained senor author Mark A. Klebanoff, MD, MPH, Center for Perinatal Research at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Severe preeclampsia poses much higher health risks to the mother and child, so linking it with a factor that we can easily treat, like vitamin D deficiency, holds great potential.” An easy fix to a life threatening problem, but talk to your doc first “If our results hold true in a modern sample of pregnant women, then further exploring the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of preeclampsia would be warranted,” concluded Dr. Bodnar. “Until then, women shouldn’t automatically take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy as a result of these findings.”

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