More than 8 in 10 pregnant women in India have low levels of Vitamin D putting them as well as the offspring at serious health risks. The high prevalence of this vitamin deficiency in pregnant women is a matter of public health concern. Experts recommend Vitamin D supplementation throughout pregnancy and lactation for mothers to ensure proper growth and development of the newborn.
Women at risk of Vitamin D deficiency
- Obese (overweight) , BMI>40kg/m2
- Spend a lot of time indoors, or are covered up when in the sun
- Have dark skin
What happens when Vitamin D levels are low?
Low vitamin D levels in mothers is associated with
- Low serum calcium in the newborn, with or without convulsions
- Rickets and defective tooth enamel
Effects on Low vitamin D levels on foetal growth:
- Lower birth weights (LBW) and a higher risk of being small for gestational age (SGA)
- Lower neonatal bone mineral accrual
- Poor foetal femoral (thigh bone –longest, heaviest and strongest bone in human body) development as early as 19 weeks of pregnancy
Low maternal vitamin D concentrations may also affect the function of other tissues, leading to a greater risk of multiple sclerosis, cancer, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and schizophrenia later in life and may influence early-life respiratory health.
|Recommended daily intakes for pregnant women|
|Vitamin D Council||4,000-6,000 IU/day|
|Endocrine Society||1,500-2,000 IU/day|
|Food and Nutrition Board||600 IU/day|
Although there is much difference in Vitamin D dose recommendations across various expert groups, the need for supplementation is clear. We recommend that every pregnant woman should get her serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH) D) levels tested and then decide a suitable dose in consultation with a well-qualified physician.
Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council. Clinical practice guidelines: Antenatal care-Module 1. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing; 2012. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/antenatal