March 13, 2012
Lack of vitamin D linked to poor language development
A Perth study has found that children whose mothers had low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy experienced more language difficulties at ages 5 and 10 years than those children whose mothers had adequate levels of vitamin D during their pregnancy .
The study looked at vitamin D concentrations ( serum 25(OH)-vitamin D) during pregnancy and its effect on the child's language, behavioural and emotional development. Maternal vitamin D concentrations were measured in 743 pregnant women at 18 weeks gestation. Children were assessed at various times between ages 2 and 17 years for behaviour and emotional development and at 5 and 10 years of age for language development.
While the study found no significant relationship between serum vitamin D levels and behavioural and emotional development at the various ages in children, it did find that children whose mums had a serum vitamin D level less than or equal to 46nmol/L had nearly twice the language problems of those children whose mothers had vitamin D levels equal to or above 70nmol/L.
Recent research has shown that vitamin D insufficiency in Australian women of childbearing age is on the rise and health professionals need to be aware of those at risk and recommend effective treatment. While more research is needed to more fully understand the effect of vitamin D on language development it adds another dimension to the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy and childhood.
The study also raises the question as to whether vitamin D supplementation should be routinely given to all pregnant women.
Whitehouse AJ, Holt BJ et al. Maternal serum vitamin D levels during pregnancy and offspring neurocognitive development. Paediatrics 2012 . Published on line Feb 2012. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2644
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