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Vitamin D-deficient pregnancy linked to multiple sclerosis in offspring

Posted:  Thursday, March 10, 2016

Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy raise multiple sclerosis (MS) risk in offspring! Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. There are many theories linking MS and vitamin D deficiency. A new study seems to lend credence to these theories. The study finds that vitamin D deficiency in expectant mothers can increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in offspring during adulthood. This is particularly so if the vitamin D deficiency occurred during the early stages of pregnancy.

The study, published online in the journal JAMA Neurology, looked at the relationship between high vitamin D levels in early pregnancy and MS incidence in children. The researchers compared 176 individuals with MS whose mothers were involved in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, and 326 control individuals. They analysed maternal blood samples to measure vitamin D levels; 70% of these samples were taken during the first trimester.

The average maternal vitamin D levels were inadequate with the levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) below 12.02ng/mL. The study found that the children of mothers who were vitamin-D deficient had a 90 percent higher risk of developing MS in adulthood compared to those whose mothers had adequate vitamin D levels. However, the study was limited by the fact that the maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy may differ from the levels to which the fetus is exposed.

The researchers said, "While our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of 25(OH)D sufficiency. Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of 25(OH)D are needed."

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