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High levels of Vitamin D in pregnancy linked to better muscle development in kids

According to a new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, by the age of four children born to women who had higher levels of vitamin D in late pregnancy had stronger hand grips than those born to women with lower vitamin D levels.

The study, part of a prospective cohort study called the Southampton Women’s survey, involved more than 600 mothers and children. The researchers used blood samples from the mother to assess levels of vitamin D in late pregnancy and at age four their child’s hand grip strength was assessed. The researchers did take account of possible other factors which may influence the results such as child gender, height, milk intake, age of mother at delivery and social class among others and still came to the conclusion that higher levels of vitamin D in pregnancy influence muscle development at age four.

While other studies have looked at the links between maternal vitamin D levels in pregnancy and child body composition outcomes such as bone and fat mass this was the first of its kind to look at the effect of vitamin D levels on child strength.

Pregnant women are at risk for not getting enough vitamin D. It is recommended by the Department of Health that a daily supplement which contains 10 micrograms of vitamin D is taken by those pregnant and breastfeeding. The research found that less than 10% of the women involved were taking this amount with an average daily intake of only 3.4 micrograms of Vitamin D.

The study did not continue after the age of four, so it is unknown if the effects continue longer term. The researchers have noted that the results need to be confirmed in an intervention before any recommendations are made however for pregnant women it highlights the need to ensure adequate vitamin D intake – at least to recommended levels - during pregnancy as well as an overall healthy diet.

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