vitamin DTaking your prenatal vitamin every day may be more important than even your obstetrician once thought. According to researchers from the University of Calgary, insufficient vitamin D intake during pregnancy may be associated with gestational diabetes, reduced fetal growth and increased risk of C-section. Indirectly, these side effects are associated with maternal and fetal death. The report was published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers gathered data from 31 separate studies in an attempt to determine a clear association between vitamin D and maternal/fetal complications. The studies were published from 1980 to 2012 and at least 95 participants were required for the studies to be considered.

Based on the study review, pregnant women with lower than normal vitamin D (5-OH) levels developed gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and small for gestational age infants more often than mothers who measured normal vitamin D levels. Infant length and head size did not appear to be different between the two groups.

Recent studies claim vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is a much bigger concern than experts once thought. When you put those studies together with this study, the outlook is bleak. According to researchers, medical professionals need “strategies to optimize vitamin D concentration.” With no current studies underway, experts implore researchers to embark on studies to develop treatment strategies, guidelines and interventions to improve vitamin D levels in pregnant women across the world and reduce the impact of vitamin D deficiency on maternal/fetal outcomes.

An editorial article on vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy from Dr. Lucas of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in Australia, claims pregnant women need to be advised to use diet, sunlight, and supplements as a means of increasing vitamin D levels and reducing potential negative side effects of deficiency.

Source: 1.F. Aghajafari, T. Nagulesapillai, P. E. Ronksley, S. C. Tough, M. O'Beirne, D. M. Rabi. Association between maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and pregnancy and neonatal outcomes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMJ, 2013; 346 (mar26 4): f1169 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.f1169