Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy may help prevent preeclampsia

Vitamin D deficiency early in pregnancy is associated with a five-fold increased risk of preeclampsia, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

In newly published research, scientists evaluated data and blood samples taken from women and newborns between 1997 and 2001 enrolled in a study designed to examine risk factors for preeclampsia. This serious complication of pregnancy is marked by elevated blood pressure and edema (swelling) of the hands and feet, and is a leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and neonatal complications including death. The results of the study show that a maternal vitamin D deficiency early in pregnancy is a strong, independent risk factor for preeclampsia. This increase risk continued even after adjusting for other known risk factors such as race, ethnicity and pre-pregnancy body weight.

Another concern was the fact that many of the women were taking prenatal vitamins, which typically contain 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D. "Even a small decline in vitamin D concentration more than doubled the risk of preeclampsia," noted James M. Roberts, M.D., senior author of the study. "And since newborn's vitamin D stores are completely reliant on vitamin D from the mother, low vitamin levels also were observed in the umbilical cord blood of newborns from mothers with preeclampsia." The researchers concluded that maternal vitamin D deficiency may be an independent risk factor for preeclampsia and vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored for preventing preeclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being.

About preeclampsia

Source: Maternal Vitamin D Deficiency Increases the Risk of Preeclampsia, Lisa M. Bodnar, Janet M. Catov, Hyagriv N. Simhan, Michael F. Holick, Robert W. Powers, and James M. Roberts, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism September 2007, Vol 92, No.9:3517-22