Is Mom’s Lack of Vitamin D in Pregnancy Linked with Child’s Weight?

Barry Austin / Getty Images

Maintaining good health during pregnancy is one of the surest ways mothers can protect their developing babies’ well-being. A new study suggests that adequate levels of vitamin D could be one such protective factor.

Some data have linked low vitamin D levels to weight gain and obesity in women and children, but in the new study researchers at the University of Southampton in the U.K. found that association may begin the womb: children born to mothers with low levels of the vitamin during pregnancy had more body fat at age 6 than those whose mothers weren’t vitamin deficient.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the vitamin D levels of 977 pregnant women and the body composition of their kids. All the women were part of the Southampton Women’s Survey — one of the largest women’s surveys in the U.K.

“In the context of current concerns about low vitamin D status in young women, and increasing rates of childhood obesity in the U.K., we need to understand more about the long-term health consequences for children who are born to mothers who have low vitamin D status,” lead researcher Dr. Siân Robinson said in a statement.

How vitamin D in mothers affects their children’s weight gain remains unknown, but the authors speculate that there are “programmed effects on the fetus that arise from maternal vitamin D insufficiency that remain with the [baby] and that may predispose him or her to gain excess body fat in later childhood.”

The researchers add that childhood weight gain can also be attributed to other issues associated with insufficient maternal nutrition like too much or too little weight gain by pregnant mothers.

Previous research has shown low vitamin D levels can lead to other pregnancy complications. A 2010 study found that women who developed a severe form of pregnancy-related high blood pressure called early-onset severe preeclampsia had lower vitamin D levels than healthy pregnant women. The complication is more common among African American women, who are also more likely to be vitamin D deficient; vitamin D is naturally synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight, and the process is less efficient in people with darker skin.

A 2012 nutrition report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency are among non-Hispanic blacks.

The National Institutes of Health says everyone can get vitamin D from enhanced foods, sun exposure and dietary supplements. Vitamin D is present naturally in very few foods, including:

  • Swordfish
  • Salmon
  • Milk
  • Eggs (in yolks)

The new study is part of a larger project by the University of Southampton’s MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, which investigates how factors during pregnancy may influence childhood growth and development long-term.

Article source:

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Advertising with Mental Health Hub

Mental Health Hub is a service of the Centre for Mental Health Education that is funded through advertisements and sponsorship.

Mental Health Hub's mission is to provide health professionals with the most current, accurate and reliable mental health information online. To support this mission, we accept advertising on our sites and sell products through our sites and third party sites.

Opportunities to advertise on Mental Health Hub are available as follows:

BANNER ADVERTISING (Starting at as little as $1 a day!) submit advertisment
We offer fixed and rotating banner advertising on our home page; rotation banners in the side menu within individual posts; and rotation banners in the side menu within categories.

SPECIAL SECTIONS (Starting at $99) submit advertisment
We offer the opportunity for sponsorship of special sections or individual content. We clearly use post labels on these pages, such as "Brought to You by," "Made Possible by," or "Support Provided by" the advertiser so our readers aware of your support. This form of advertising allows your company to always be attached to the editorial content you have supported.

If you are a qualified mental health professional and would like to promote your own services we invite submissions of content in the form of articles, video presentations and research outcomes. As a published author on Mental Health Hub your posts will be acknowledged as submitted with you and a link to your website included with each post.

If you would like to advertise on Mental Health Hub we would invite your inquiry through our online Advertiser's inquiry form at

Our Advertising Policy

Our Contact