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Open-label trial: Vitamin D during pregnancy improves Apgar scores

Posted on: March 26, 2014   by  Brant Cebulla


New research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy may help improve Apgar scores in newborns.

There is much interest in vitamin D during pregnancy. Researchers are interested if low vitamin D levels during pregnancy increases risk of developing certain conditions during pregnancy, like preeclampsia, and certain complications, like needing a C-section. They’re also interested if low vitamin D levels during pregnancy increases risk of offspring developing a wide array of diseases, from cardiovascular diseases to autoimmune diseases to developmental disorders.

To date, we have lots of observational data showing that vitamin D deficiency is indeed linked to these diseases and complications. However, we’re still lacking good quantities of interventional data to see if vitamin D deficiency causes some of these diseases and complications.

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4 Responses to Open-label trial: Vitamin D during pregnancy improves Apgar scores

  1. Rita and Misty

    Very nice article, Brant. Thank you for all your efforts, and I enjoy reading your work.

    To quote two sections from your above writings:

    “Sixty-nine percent of the babies born in Group B (the vitamin D group) had vitamin D levels over 30 ng/ml at birth, while only 18% of the babies born in Group A (no vitamin D) had vitamin D levels over 30 ng/ml.”

    “While this research shows an intriguing relationship between vitamin D supplementation during the latter half of pregnancy and improved Apgar scores, it’s also disappointing that the researchers didn’t find vitamin D to help with various conditions and complications.”

    My thoughts:

    Perhaps researchers might have find vitamin D to help with various pregnancy conditions and complications if the 25(OH)D level had been raised to 50 ng/ml to 80 ng/ml. Or, at least 60 ng/ml.

    I know I am repetitive..but I will keep on saying it until we at least reach consensus within the vitamin D community itself: We must establish optimal reference points for the 25(OH)D level.

    Looking to our current hunter/gatherer societies, this range appears to be 46 ng/ml to 104 ng/ml.

    Let’s catch a clue… 😉

  2. Brant Cebulla

    Rita, thanks for the comments.

    Mean levels of hunter-gatherer pregnant women, based on Luxwolda data, is 55.4 ng/ml with a standard deviation of 14 ng/ml. This means 68% of hunter gatherer pregnant women fall between 41.4 ng/ml and 69.4 ng/ml. So, it’s probably not necessary for study purposes to raise vitamin D levels beyond this range, if we want to test the theory that hunter gatherers have optimal vitamin D levels.

    There’s a good chance that in this population, 4,000 IU wasn’t quite enough. However, it’s a large enough dose where you’d hope to see some results. It could be that the combination of not quite high enough dose plus too small number of participants led to underwhelming results.

  3. Ian

    I think 20 weeks is too late. If the mother is deficient then where is the vitamin D going during the remainder weeks after dosing. How long does it take to raise the infants vitamin D levels in utero?
    Just measuring a level at birth is not telling us much. That level may have only been reached a few weeks before birth. Who knows!

    Difficult to achieve in a study but supplementation must be given at the start of pregnancy, or before then we might see more results

  4. Rita and Misty

    Ian–I think you raise an excellent point in that supplementation is much better if commenced at the start of pregnancy. Personally, I think a woman should correct for deficiency prior to considering pregnancy–but of course that would be in a perfect world (I am Pollyanna).

    Brant, if the vitamin D community would agree upon optimal 25(OH)D level as 40 ng/ml to 70 ng/ml I would be happy–not thrilled–but happy. From my own experience, my good health returned upon my level being raised to 74 ng/ml. I think that the VDC’s recommendation of 50 ng/ml–80 ng/ml is on target…but I would take 40 ng/ml to 70 ng/ml as a step in the right direction.

    By the way, I think it would be better to focus on blood levels rather than on daily dosage.

    Again, Brant, thanks for all your good work. I consider this website and forum to be invaluable–a true gift.

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