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Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in newborns is much higher in comparison to their mothers

Posted on: February 21, 2018   by  Riley Peterson & John Cannell, MD.


Vitamin D status plays a crucial role through the pregnancy cycle and in infants. However, vitamin D deficiency is a highly prevalent condition worldwide, with approximately a third of the population affected. A recent study evaluated the prevalence of deficiency in Nigerian pregnant women and their newborn infants to determine if vitamin D supplement recommendations would be needed.

Researchers included a total of 166 pregnant women. A serum analysis of vitamin D status was administered prior to delivery for the women, and just after delivery for the newborn infants. Women who gave birth preterm or who were diagnosed with gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or who had multiple pregnancies were excluded from this study.

This is what the researchers found:

  • Approximately 5% of the mothers and 29.5% of the infants were considered vitamin D deficient.
  • Average 25(OH)D status was 35.0 ng/ml in the women, and 25.4 ng/ml in the infants.
  • The infant’s vitamin D levels were 72.6% of their mother’s (p < 0.0001).
  • Maternal vitamin D status was positively correlated with infant vitamin D status  (p < 0.05).

The researchers concluded:

“In conclusion, this study showed a low prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency among our antenatal women, but a considerable high rate of deficiency in their newborns.”

They continued:

“These findings therefore suggest Vitamin D supplementation for our pregnant women especially those at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, like women who use veils and women who are always indoors (for one reason or the other except going for antenatal visits) in order to raise their serum levels of Vitamin D, thereby increasing neonatal levels.”


Owie, E. Afolabi, B.B.Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and newborns in Lagos, Nigeria. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2018.

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