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Vitamin D Essential For Pregnant Women: Study

Update Date: Sep 26, 2012 08:26 AM EDT
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A new study suggests that higher levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may be significant in determining the baby's future health.

According to the study, a deficiency of Vitamin D during pregnancy may lead to poor mental and motor skills in babies.

For the study, researchers from Spain measured levels of vitamin D in the blood of almost 2,000 women during the first or second trimester of their pregnancy and checked for the mental and motor abilities of their babies when they were about 14 months of age.

The findings revealed that mothers who had a vitamin D deficiency had babies with lower scores in mental and motor abilities when compared to those babies whose mothers had adequate levels of the vitamin.

Lower scores in motor and mental tests could lead to lower IQs, reported new parent.com.

There have been studies conducted previously, suggesting that a lack of vitamin D during pregnancy could lead to language problems, higher body fat, bone weakness, lung infections and schizophrenia in children.

Apart from the risk to the babies, lack of vitamin D could also have negative effects on mothers-to-be. Apparently, deficiency of the vitamin has been associated with a higher risk for developing preeclampsia in pregnant women. Preeclampsia is when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is rarely fatal, but can lead to premature births, the report says.

Although the exact amount of vitamin D that a pregnant woman should take is not clear, the Institute of Medicine, an independent U.S. group that advises the public, recommends 600 international units (IU) a day of and no more than 4,000 IU/day. However, according to the Endocrine Society, 600 units does not prevent deficiency and at least 1,500 to 2,000 units a day may be required.

The study was published online in September and will be available in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.

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