Research News

No link between vitamin D in pregnancy and bone health in children

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 26 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1926

Pregnant women probably shouldn’t take vitamin D supplements just to improve the bone health of their children, say researchers. They found no association between mothers’ serum concentrations of vitamin D during pregnancy and their children’s bone mineral content at an average age of 10 years, in a series of extensively adjusted analyses from a UK cohort.

The researchers analysed data from 3960 pairs of mothers and children from the south west of England, mostly white Europeans. Three quarters of the women had “sufficient” vitamin D, defined as more than 50 nmol/L. Their children had no higher bone mineral content than women judged “insufficient” or “deficient” in any trimester of pregnancy.

High profile cases of infant rickets in developed countries originally triggered calls for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take supplements of vitamin D, says a linked comment (doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60098-7). Unlike the women in this cohort study, most of their mothers had dark skin and were more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency. Experts and guidelines still disagree about the optimum concentration of vitamin D in pregnancy and how best to achieve it. The safest strategy while we wait for more research is to recommend supplements only to pregnant women at high risk, including women with dark skin, women who cover up completely when outside, and those with a particularly low dietary intake.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1926