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Low Vitamin D Levels in Mothers Linked to Cavities Risk for Children

Update Date: Apr 21, 2014 02:51 PM EDT

Since vitamin D is essential for bone health, low levels of vitamin D can be detrimental for one's overall health. In a new study, researchers examined the link between low vitamin D levels in mothers and risk of cavities in babies. They found that when pregnant women do not get enough vitamin D, their babies end up having a greater risk of cavities.

"All pregnant and nursing women need to take 4000-5000 (International Units per day) vitamin D3. There are many benefits for pregnancy outcomes including reduced risk of gestational diabetes, respiratory and other infections, premature delivery, pre-eclampsia, adverse effects on the fetus such as birth defects including very possibly autism," William B. Grant from the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, CA told Reuters Health.

For this study, the researchers recruited 134 pregnant women with an average age of 19. The expectant mothers provided information regarding their health, habits and socioeconomic status. Researchers also took blood samples to measure vitamin D levels. After the women gave birth, their children received dental examinations at the average age of one. During this time, the mothers filled out another questionnaire regarding breast-feeding habits, baby's solid food consumption and other health and behavioral tendencies.

The researchers found that one-third of the mothers had vitamin D levels that were deficient during pregnancy. These low vitamin D levels were tied to negative dental health in babies. 22 percent of the babies had deficient or thinning enamel, which is a predictor of cavities. 23 percent of the infants had cavities.

"The association is not overly strong," said the senior author, Robert J. Schroth, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba in Canada reported by the New York Times. "But this may be the first step in prevention - making sure that prenatal nutrition and vitamin D levels are right."

The study, "Prenatal Vitamin D and Dental Caries in Infants," was published in Pediatrics.

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