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Vitamin D during pregnancy may be critical for infant brain development

Posted on: September 17, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


A study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy could hinder infants’ brain and motor development.

Researchers from Spain recruited pregnant women during the first trimester of pregnancy from November 2003 to February 2008. Data from 1,820 mother-infant pairs were used.

The authors measured maternal vitamin D status. The infants’ mental and psychomotor scores were also assessed by psychologists at 14 months of age.

The median vitamin D level of the mothers during pregnancy was 29.6 ng/mL (inter-quartile range, 21.8–37.3). Twenty percent of the women were vitamin D deficient, while another 32% had insufficient vitamin D levels.

After adjusting for confounders such as birth weight, maternal age, mothers education level, and whether the mother smoke or drank during pregnancy, the researchers found that infants whose mothers’ vitamin D levels were above 30 ng/mL displayed higher mental score and higher psychomotor score when compared with infants of mothers with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL.

Lead author Dr Eva Morales stated:

“These differences in the mental and psychomotor development scores do not likely make any difference at the individual level, but might have an important impact at the population level.”


Morales E, Guxens M, Llop S, Rodriguez-Bernal CL, Tardon A, Riano I, Ibarluzea J, Lertxundi N, Espada M, Rodriguez A, Sunyer J. Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 in pregnancy and infant neuropsychological development. Pediatrics. Published online September 17, 2012.

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