A new study published in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition found that insufficient vitamin D supplement intake of pregnant women and their infants was independently associated with an increased risk for positional skull deformations during infancy.
Positional skull deformation is the formation of a flat or misshapen head that can occur for a variety of reasons. Laying an infant flat on his or her back to sleep is the major cause of positional skull deformations during infancy.
Over the past several years, positional skull deformations have become more common. In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that infants should sleep on their back to prevent sudden infant death syndrome, which has been successful in dramatically decreasing the incidence of sudden infant death syndrome.
Infants are at the greatest risk for developing positional skull deformities during the first four months of life. The infant’s risk decreases by six months as mobility increases and the baby can turn and move their head on their own.
Since vitamin D is widely known for its role in skeletal health, researchers from the Netherlands were curious as to whether vitamin D intake would affect the incidence of positional skull deformities.
In a recent study, the researchers enrolled 275 infants with positional skull deformations and 548 healthy infants.
Researchers used a questionnaire to gather information from the mothers on lifestyle and vitamin D intakes and compared the data between those with skull deformation and those without.
The researchers discovered that mothers who did not adhere to the recommendation of supplementing daily with 400 IU of vitamin D during their last trimester of pregnancy were 1.86 times more likely to have children with positional skull deformations.
Infants who did not receive the recommended 400 IU of daily vitamin D supplements were 7.15 times more likely to develop a skull deformation.
“Our study provides an early infant life example of the importance of adequate vitamin D intake during pregnancy and infancy,” the researchers concluded.