A study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, reported that pregnant women who don’t get enough Vitamin D are up to five times more likely to develop preeclampsia even among those who are taking prenatal vitamins.
Preeclampsia is a condition that affects almost 10% of first time pregnancies and is associated with up to 100,000 deaths annually. It is a very quick rise in the pregnant woman’s blood pressure, serious enough to cause stroke or seizure, leading often to organ failure and possibly the death of both mother and baby.
It still stands as the number one cause of premature delivery and maternal death around the world. Even in America where some feel comforted by the higher levels of physician, care, training and expertise, surviving preeclampsia is very uncertain for both mother and baby.
An infant born to a mother who was preeclamptic is five times more likely to die. It is due to the seriousness of this condition and its impact on infants and mothers that has made research on this potentially fatal pregnancy complication a high priority for researchers.
Vitamin D is often associated with bone health in most people’s minds, and for good reason. Vitamin D helps the body absorb Calcium. Without Vitamin D and decent exposure to sunlight, people can develop rickets. Rickets can cause bowed legs, bone weakness, and other skeletal problems. Vitamin D deficiency is also related to asthma, schizophrenia and diabetes.
In a study conducted by Dr. Bodnar and some of her colleagues, blood was evaluated that had been taken from almost 2,000 pregnant women and then their newborn babies over a 4 year period. The preeclampsic women’s results which were taken early and late in pregnancy as well as just after delivery were tested for Vitamin D concentration among other things.
It was found that even a small decline in the concentration of Vitamin D more than doubled the chance that the women would become preeclampsic. In addition, the amount of Vitamin D that the mother had just before delivery, directly correlated to the amount that was found in the newborn just after birth.
This study highlights the importance for a pregnant woman to increase Vitamin D intake and have her levels checked during her pregnancy. Because preeclampsia can easily be fatal and hard to treat due to the speed in which the blood pressure must be brought to a safe level, the focus should be on prevention.
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