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Maternal vitamin D vital for childhood development

2 min read

UK researchers are saying that preventing vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women might be important for ensuring normal development in children.

The study looked at data from more than 7000 mother and child pairs and found that maternal vitamin D deficiency has a negative effect on the social development and motor skills of pre-school children in the first 4 years of life.

The importance of vitamin D should not be underestimated

Lead author of the study, Dr Andrea Darling from the University of Surrey, said:

"The importance of vitamin D should not be underestimated. It is well known to be good for our musculoskeletal systems, but our research shows that if levels are low in expectant mothers, it can effect the development of their children in their early years of life."

Vitamin D deficient mothers more likely to have children in the bottom 25% of pre-school development tests for gross and fine motor development

The results of the study showed that pregnant women who were deficient in vitamin D were more likely to have children in the bottom 25% of pre-school development tests for gross and fine motor development at age 2 1/2 when compared to the children of mothers who had sufficient levels of vitamin D whilst pregnant.

Further to these results, it was also found that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy negatively affected the child's social development at age 3 1/2. 

It's difficult for a pregnant mother to get the recommended daily intake food alone

The study reported that while vitamin D can be found in food such as oily fish and in small amounts in red meat, eggs and fortified spreads and breakfast cereals, unless the mother is eating one large portion of oily fish per day it's very difficult to get the recommended daily intake of 10 micrograms from food alone.

Dr Darling said:

"Many pregnant women, especially those from minority groups with darker skin (e.g African, African-Caribbean or South Asian), will still need to take a 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement daily, particularly in the autumn and winter when vitamin D cannot be made from the sun."

It is important to understand that 'more it not necessarily better' and that as important as it is to get the right nutrition and the optimal levels of vitamin D during pregnancy it is also advisable not to take too much vitamin D supplements.

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.