Researchers from the Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southhampton report a connection between maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy and bone density in offspring at four years old. While the connection is important enough as a standalone revelation, researchers were also able to predict bone density in the children based on genetic markers found in cord blood collected at birth.
Many people recognize vitamin D as the vitamin added to milk, fortified cereals andother foods, but it is also a vitamin the body is ready and willing to produce massive amounts of when unprotected skin comes in contact with the sun. Some experts believe the regular use of sunscreens has caused vitamin D levels to plummet resulting in vitamin D deficiency on a massive scale. Vitamin D deficiency can have a negative effect on bone density, but researchers now believe it’s not just you you have to worry about.
Researchers performed bone scans on a group of 230 girls and boys at four years old. All of the children had previously had cord blood collected and preserved at birth. The result of the bone scan was compared to marks on DNA. The marks correlate with the RXRA gene. Fewer marks means the gene is active; more marks and the gene is less active. In children with more marks bone density levels were lower. In children with fewer marks bone density levels were higher.
Study authors quickly started a new research project investigating the outcome of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy on bone density. The study is called the Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Study (MAVIDOS).
The study that revealed genetic marker that could be used to predict child bone density is not yet complete. Researchers are still working to find dietary and lifestyle connections to pregnancy in hopes of establishing health guidelines to best serve pregnant women and streamline obstetric care.
Source: Nicholas C Harvey MA MB BChir MRCP PhD, Allan Sheppard BSc PhD, Keith M Godfrey BM FRCP PhD, Cameron McLean BSc, Emma Garratt BSc PhD, Georgia Ntani BSc MSc, Lucy Davies BSc MSc, Robert Murray BSc PhD, Hazel M Inskip MSc PhD FFPH, Peter D Gluckman KNZM FRS FMedSci, Mark A Hanson MA DPhil CertEd FRCOG, Karen A Lillycrop BSc PhD, Cyrus Cooper MA DM FRCP FFPH FMedSci1,4,7. Childhood bone mineral content is associated with methylation status of the RXRA promoter at birth. DOI: 10.1002/jbmr.2056.