Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy Linked with Higher Risk of MS in Offspring


Researchers found that maternal vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy was associated with a “nearly two-fold increased risk of [multiple sclerosis] in the offspring.”

Photo © Torstensson

Photo © Torstensson

Researchers have found that maternal vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy may be associated with nearly twice the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) in offspring. That’s according to a new, prospective, nested case-control study of the Finnish Maternity Cohort published in JAMA Neurology.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) says the study results build on previous research showing higher vitamin D blood levels are associated with a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). But support for a link between in utero vitamin D exposure and MS risk has been less well-established, noted researchers.

“The Finnish Maternity Cohort study is an important and promising investigation, and we agree with the authors that more research is needed to learn more definitively how vitamin D supplementation may help prevent the devastation of our children developing multiple sclerosis later in life,” says Andrea Wong, PhD, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, CRN.

Researchers identified 193 individuals with a diagnosis of MS in the Finnish Maternity Cohort, all of whom were diagnosed before December 31, 2009. The MS cases were then matched with 331 control cases based on region of birth in Finland, date of mother’s birth, date of child’s birth, and date of maternal serum sample collection. Researchers measured maternal levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) with a chemiluminescence assay.

They discovered that maternal vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy, defined as 25(OH)D levels below 12.02 ng/mL, was associated with “a nearly two-fold increased risk of MS in the offspring compared with women who did not have deficient 25(OH)D levels.”

“It’s common sense that raising vitamin D levels might make a difference, and as a woman, I believe that if there’s a any chance that a woman could reduce the risk of her unborn child’s developing MS later in life, that’s something a mother-to-be would strongly consider-especially if it’s doing something as simple as adding a vitamin D supplement daily,” says Wong.


Read more:

Bone-Health Cofactors: New Science on Vitamin D, K2, Magnesium, and Zinc

Vitamin D and Brain Health: Smart Ways to Think about Vitamin D

Does Vitamin D Help With Asthma?


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine


KL Munger et al., “Vitamin D status during pregnancy and risk of multiple sclerosis in offspring of women in the Finnish Maternity Cohort,” JAMA Neurology. Published online March 7, 2016.

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