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Higher vitamin D during pregnancy benefits offspring

12.20.2018

The January 2014 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism contained a report of the findings of researchers from England’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton of a muscle strength benefit in the children of mothers who had higher vitamin D levels during pregnancy.

The study included 678 pregnant participants in the Southampton Women’s Survey. The women’s serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured at 34 weeks of gestation. When their children were four years old, hand grip strength, lean mass, percent lean mass and physical activity were assessed.

A correlation was observed between higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and an increase in hand grip strength. An additional association was found between total lean mass and increased vitamin D concentrations, which was reduced after adjustment for several factors.

"These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures,” stated lead researcher Nicholas C. Harvey, who is a Senior Lecturer at the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit. “It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age."

Coauthor and Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit Director Cyrus Cooper added that, “This work should help us to design interventions aimed at optimizing body composition in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations."


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