Low vitamin D may be linked to pregnancy complication

Mothers with low blood levels of vitamin D may be at a higher risk of pre-eclampsia according to a new US study.

Pre-eclampsia is the medical term for pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, which can be life threatening to infants and mothers if left untreated. The causes of the condition are not well
understood.

Pregnant women were recruited over a 4-year period and asked to contribute a blood sample in early pregnancy. This was later tested to establish the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for each
individual. On following up the women, the researchers noted that 55 developed pre-eclampsia, while 219 did not. When the blood sample results were compared, it was found that the women who
developed pre-eclampsia had a lower blood concentration of vitamin D compared with women who did not develop pre-eclampsia. There was a dose-response relationship between pre-eclampsia risk and
vitamin D, in that the lowest vitamin D concentrations were associated with the highest risk of pre-eclampsia . Indeed, a blood vitamin D content of 50 nmol/litre doubled the risk of
pre-eclampsia, even after adjustment for confounding factors such as age. Newborns of women with pre-eclampsia were twice as likely to have a low vitamin D blood concentration themselves
compared with newborns of healthy mothers.

It would appear that maternal vitamin D deficiency could increase a woman’s risk of pre-eclampsia but intervention studies using vitamin D supplementation are now needed to confirm this.

For more information, see
Bodnar LM (2007). Maternal vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of preeclampsia. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Vol 92, pages
3517-22.

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