Higher vitamin D intake may decrease pregnancy and Caesarean risks

New research shows that a higher intake of vitamin D may significantly decrease pregnancy and Caesarean risks in women.

Vitamin-D sourceThere have long been fears that pregnant women could injure the fetus growing inside them by consuming too much vitamin D. Now that view is being challenged by new research.

New research by Dr. Bruce Hollis, director of pediatric nutritional sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, and Dr. Michael F. Holick, researcher at Boston University School of Medicine, indicates that pregnant women aren’t typically getting enough vitamin D in their diets.

Dr. Hollis and his colleagues looked at 500 women who were at least 12 weeks pregnant, dividing the group of women into dosage levels. Some women took 400 IU of vitamin D while others took 2,000 and 4,000 IU. The team found that the women who consumed 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily were least likely to go into labor early, give birth prematurely or suffer an infection during pregnancy.

“Pregnant women need to take 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day,” said Hollis. “We didn’t see a single adverse effect. It was absolutely safe, and we saw a lot of improved outcomes. The risk of preterm labor was vastly decreased and so was the risk of other complications of pregnancy.”

Dr. Elisa Ross, of the Cleveland Clinic Institute of Women’s Health, commented on the study results, telling WCTV: “In the olden days, we thought vitamin D could be associated with certain birth defects and may cause more calcium to build up in the women’s blood. If this study is confirmed – which I am hoping it will be – it will increase the amount of vitamin D we recommend 10-fold.”

Some experts cautioned that the results of the study, presented to academics at the meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 1, should be taken lightly since women in their first trimester were not tested. Some suggested that additional research be done to also test the blood levels of vitamin D going to the fetus.

As for Dr. Holick, the research he and his team conducted involved 253 women who gave birth at a Boston, Massachusetts hospital. The women were 25 years old on average, and all lived in the Boston area for the entire pregnancy. The team measured vitamin D levels in the blood directly after the women gave birth. They found that women with vitamin D deficiencies were nearly four times likely to give birth via Caesarean.

Holick and his team hope to further test their theories and determine if increases in vitamin D intake while pregnant can be tied to lower risk of Caesarean.

Their research is published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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