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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

Pregnancy complications linked to D deficiency

A recent Spanish study conducted by Dr. Perez-Ferre under the supervision of Professor Alfonso Calle-Pascual of the Medicina Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, studied the association between vitamin D levels in pregnant women and pregnancy complications.

Perez-Ferre N, Torrejon MJ, Fuentes M, Fernandez MD, Ramos A, Bordiu E, Del Valle L, Rubio MA, Bedia AR, Montañez C, Calle-Pascual AL.  Association of low serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D levels in pregnancy with glucose homeostasis and obstetric and newborn outcomes. Endocr Pract. 2012 May 1:1-18.

They studied 266 pregnant women between June and September. They found that pregnant women with 25(OH)D levels above 30 ng/ml had an 8% chance of preterm delivery, while those with a 25(OH)D of less than 10 ng/ml had a 39% risk, almost a five-fold greater risk.

The authors found that only 25 of the 266 women had 25(OH)D levels above 30 ng/ml, while 66% had levels below 20 ng/ml. Not only were the women with the highest levels (>30 ng/ml) less likely to have a preterm delivery, they were less likely to have gestational diabetes (12% versus 34%), cesarean section (8% versus 38%) and much less likely to be acidotic at birth (pH 7.1 versus 7.4).

Also, the women with the highest levels had babies that weighed, on the average, 3 kg, while women with the lowest 25(OH)D levels had heavier babies. Like past research, this fits my theory that babies from a vitamin D sufficient pregnancy will be full term (they were) but weigh less (they did) and have shorter delivery times (not measured). I think Paliolithic women had to quickly deliver small, developed term babies who nursed quietly. Failure to do so may have meant the clan would leave you and your baby behind, or worse.

The authors called for measurement of 25(OH)D levels both before and during pregnancy. They also called for both vitamin D supplements and increased outdoor activities for pregnant women. They recommended 2,000 IU/day, which I would dispute is still inadequate, though it is better than most recommendations.

Professor Bruce Hollis has shown that the recommendation of 2,000 IU/day is inadequate for breast-feeding. He has also shown that 4,000 IU/day is better than 2,000 IU/day during pregnancy. On days you do not get full body sun exposure, we recommend 6,000 IU/day throughout pregnancy, 5,000 for mom and 1,000 for baby, to maintain natural vitamin D levels, around 50 ng/ml, which is about where breast milk is magically transformed into a rich source of vitamin D for the infants.

  About: John Cannell, MD

Dr. John Cannell is founder of the Vitamin D Council. He has written many peer-reviewed papers on vitamin D and speaks frequently across the United States on the subject. Dr. Cannell holds an M.D. and has served the medical field as a general practitioner, emergency physician, and psychiatrist.

4 Responses to Pregnancy complications linked to D deficiency

  1. Jenbyers2003 says:

    Wow! Having the chance to work on a Vit D and pregnancy study I cant wait to see the Drs finally tell their patients to take more D!

  2. anniecmars@yahoo.com.au says:

    My niece was fortunate enough to have an obstetrician who tested vit D level at the first pre-natal appt, as my niece’s vit D level came back at 29 nmol/L, which could have caused rickets in her baby. Her obstetrician immediately recommended 4000 iu per day through out the pregnancy! I was very pleased and excited as it seems the vitamin D news is getting out in Australia and our Drs are taking note!!!

    • Brant Cebulla says:

      Annie, that’s impressive! We have heard stories of obstetricians worried about vitamin D supplementation because they are not aware of the Wagner/Hollis RCTs. They see how much higher it is than government recommendations (6-8 times recommendation of 600 IU/day!) and are worried about teratology without basis. This is somewhat understandable — it’s only natural to fear what you don’t know.

  3. It is also natural to fear what you have been told to fear.
    For over 40 years doctors were told in med school that patients would turn to stone if they had more the 2,000 IU of vitamin D. That “instruction” was based on a single incorrect diagnosis in the 1950’s in one country.
    That fear/myth is still in the medical profession today.
    It is only during the last decade that it is no longer being taught/propagated.
    If were are to have to rely on doctors to come around to embracing instead of rejecting vitamin D we would have to wait until the 1955-1995 cohort of doctors retire.
    By the way –
    it took me several months of reading the literature to realize than > 2,000 IU of vitamin D was OK. After about a year of reading I became aware that 10,000 IU of vitamin D is fine. see the chart at http://www.vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page_id=898, I currently average 12,500 IU of vitamin D in the dark winter around Seattle. Did you know that of all 15 of the cloudiest cities in the US are in Western Washington? http://www.vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page_id=870