Vitamin D supplements could prevent pregnancy complications, claim scientists. A breakthrough study funded by Wellbeing of Women suggests the vitamin could save mums and babies at risk of complications.
The study at University of Birmingham suggests that the sunshine vitamin is as vital as taking folic acid during pregnancy to prevent common complications such as pre-eclampsia, foetal growth restriction, miscarriage and preterm birth.
Around 90% of the population in the UK is vitamin D deficient and pregnant women are particularly at risk.
Wellbeing of Women researchers have been studying for the first time, how this affects mum and baby and whether the current recommended supplement dose is high enough.
Professor Martin Hewison and Dr Jennifer Tamblyn suspects the current 10mcg daily supplement, advised to the rest of the population, is inadequate for pregnant women.
Their research has shown that the placenta’s immune system is controlled by vitamin D, meaning low levels causes the placenta not to function properly and this can lead to complications.
The study also shows that vitamin D affects cells in the placenta that have an anti-inflammatory action too, so could be important in preventing the mum from rejecting the foetus.
A simple, inexpensive and safe vitamin D supplement could treat a whole range of pregnancy health issues.
“This is unique research,” said Univeristy of Birmingham Professor Martin Hewison. “For the first time, we are focusing on how important Vitamin D is for the health of the mother and baby by establishing the important role it plays in controlling the function of the placenta.
“We knew that taking Vitamin D in later pregnancy was important for the development of the foetal skeleton, but we now believe taking vitamin D supplements very early in pregnancy, or possibly even before conception, could help protect against pre-eclampsia and possibly other pregnancy complications, such as growth restriction and even miscarriage.”
The news was welcomed by Vitabiotics who supported the exciting research through Wellbeing of Women.
Vitabiotics Senior Vice President, Robert Taylor, said: “Pregnacare is delighted to support Wellbeing of Women, whose work is so important for the health of women and babies everywhere. Dr Tamblyn’s research is truly ground-breaking and may revolutionise our understanding of the importance of vitamin D for the placenta and the heath of both baby and mother.”
*Vitabiotics Pregnacare generously supported this work through the charity Wellbeing of Women, which independently selected the research through its peer review process, Dr Tamblyn and her work was not impacted or influenced in any way by its sources of funding.