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High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in an Arab population of mothers and newborns

Posted on: July 19, 2017   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent study, published by Neonatology, discovered an alarming prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and their newborn babies.

Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with preeclampsia, miscarriage, low birth weight and more recently, social development and behavioral disorders. In addition, several studies have found high vitamin D deficiency rates in the Middle East.Therefore, researchers decided to examine the rate of deficiency among pregnant women of this population in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A total of 1,097 pregnant women were included in this multicenter study. Serum 25(OH)D levels were drawn at the beginning of enrollment and at the end of the second and third trimester. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as a serum level of 25(OH)D <20 ng/ml, insufficiency as 20–30 ng/mg, and adequate levels as >30 ng/ml.

A separate analysis was also conducted for the first 280 women who were recruited for the study. These participant’s received a blood draw to evaluate bone health, thyroid levels and vitamin D levels at their first prenatal visit.

This is what the researchers found:

  • Throughout the duration of their pregnancy, a total of 84.3% of the mothers were considered to be vitamin D deficient, 10% were vitamin D insufficient and only 5.7% were within adequate range.
  • In the separate analysis of the first 280 subjects enrolled, 98.5% of the women were considered vitamin D deficient at their first prenatal appointment.
  • Of the total 142 neonates born to the 280 women in the subset analysis, 88% were deficient and 8.5% were within insufficient range.
  • There was a significant, positive correlation between mothers and their babies’ vitamin D levels (p<0.001).

The authors concluded:

“Maternal and neonatal vitamin D deficiency is alarmingly high in Arabs and significantly associated with each other. Universal screening for serum 25(OH)D may be appropriate for Arab mothers and vitamin D supplementation mandatory until term.”


Foudaa, M. Extremely High Prevalence of Maternal and Neonatal Vitamin D Deficiency in the Arab Population. Neonatology, 2017.


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