Vitamin D Deficiency In Pregnancy: Babies Conceived During Winter Months Have Higher Learning Disabilities Risk

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald August 24, 09:03 am

Lack of vitamin D in pregnant mothers can increase risk of learning disabilities in their children. A new study in the United Kingdom found that British children conceived between January and March are more likely to develop a learning disability because of lack of sunlight, which is where vitamin D mainly originates.

The research studied more than 801,000 school children between 2006 and 2011, with 8.9 percent of them who were born between January and March with learning disabilities, Belfast Newsletter reported. Only 7.6 percent of kids with learning disabilities were conceived between July and September.

People can get vitamin D through sun exposure, but it is also found in few foods and in dietary supplements. Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna are the best vitamin D food sources. Small amounts were also found in egg yolks, cheese, liver, and some mushrooms, the National Institutes of Health listed.

Vitamin D modulates the body's cell growth and neuromuscular and immune functions. When paired with calcium, vitamin D can also lower osteoporosis risk.

The study, which was carried out by researchers from Cambridge University and Glasgow University, said the vitamin D deficiency between January and March is attributed to the U.K.'s lack of sunlight during these months. This can be a problem for pregnant mothers because vitamin D has been proven to be vital for babies' brain development and lack of it can result in autism, dyslexia, and intellectual difficulties.

Gordon Smith, a professor and department head of obstetrics and gynecology at Cambridge University, said the study's findings highlight the importance of health experts recommending vitamin D supplements. Women should make sure to take the vitamin D during seasonal fluctuations so their children would be healthy.

Jill Pell, director of Glasgow University's Institute of Health and Wellbeing, advised women to take vitamin D supplements as early in pregnancy as possible or when they are attempting to conceive. More than 700,000 people in the U.K. have autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, Express reported. In the United States, about one in 68 children have ASD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Excessive vitamin D is also bad for the body. Vitamin D toxicity due to high intakes of dietary supplements can lead to anorexia, weight loss, polyuria or excessive urination, heart arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat, and vascular and tissue calcification. Post-menopausal women with excessive vitamin D and calcium intakes can increase their risk of developing kidney stones by 17 percent over seven years.

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