Children of women who have low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may have a higher risk of having more body fat during childhood, a new study from the UK suggests.
Researchers found that mothers who were deficient in vitamin Dtended to have children with more body fat at age 6, even when other factors were taken into account, such as a child’s exercise level or woman's weight gain during pregnancy.
"Our findings add weight to current concerns about the prevalence of low vitamin D status among women of reproductive age," said study researcher Siân Robinson, a principle research fellow at the University of Southampton.
The study showed an association, but does not suggest that low vitamin D levels during pregnancy cause high body fat in childhood, or obesity. More research must be done to better understand the role of a woman's vitamin D levels and her children's body fat.
The researchers surveyed 977 UK women during pregnancy, and tracked their children until age 6.
While the exact reason for the link is unclear, Robinson said that a woman's lack of vitamin D could have effects on a developing fetus that persist into childhood, and predispose him or her to gain excess body fat.
The study comes on the heels of growing concern over rising obesityand childhood obesity. Previous studies have suggested a link between vitamin D levels and body weight in children and adults, regardless of mother's levels during pregnancy, and vitamin D consumption is also a concern during infancy, the researchers said.
Young women in the UK tend to be deficient in vitamin D, and while they are encouraged to take supplements of the vitamin during pregnancy, this does not always happen, the researchers said.
The findings are part of a larger study in which researchers are analyzing the effects of pregnancy on long-term childhood development and growth.
The research was published today (May 24) in the American Journal of Critical Nutrition.
Pass it on: Not getting enough vitamin D during pregnancy might cause your baby to gain more body fat as a child.