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Environment & Energy

Low Vitamin D Levels Associated with Lower Birth Rates

A new study from the University of Pittsburgh finds low Vitamin D Levels early in pregnancy are associated with lower birth weights.

The study will be in the January edition of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Lead Author Alison Gernand from The Graduate School of Public Health says there has been an increased interest in looking at Vitamin D levels in pregnancy in recent years.

“There’s been some evidence that Vitamin D might be related to a number of bad outcomes in pregnancy and just the more we learn about the biology about Vitamin D and how it works in the body people are more and more interested in what poor outcomes might result from deficiency in Vitamin D,” said Gernand.

The study found that the Vitamin D level in the bloodstream was associated with the birth weight of the baby.

If the moms were deficient the babies weighed about 46 grams less than babies born to mothers who were not deficient in Vitamin D.

The study also found that women deficient in vitamin D in the early stages of their pregnancies are more likely to deliver babies with lower birth weights.

Only full-term babies were looked at for this study.

The study was carried out in 12 centers across the United States. It used samples from women who participated in a perinatal project in the 50’s and 60’s. The blood samples were well-preserved but researchers say it would be beneficial to test new women because women today have different habits – they smoke less, weigh more and eat more Vitamin D fortified foods.

Most cases of Vitamin D deficiency are cause by not getting sufficient sun exposure.

“That can actually happen because you use clothing or sunscreen or you live in a cloudy climate or you live in the North during the winter, the sun rays that would help your skin make Vitamin D actually don’t reach us,” said Gernand. “So in a place like Pittsburgh, in the winter, its easy for some people to be deficient in Vitamin D because we can’t make it through our skin so you would have to get it through your diet.”

The darker your skin tone the harder it is for you to make the same amount of Vitamin D as someone with the same exposure but lighter skin.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.