Women who have low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may increase their odds of having a child with language problems.
Research published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that white women who had the lowest levels of vitamin D during their second trimester were about twice as likely to have children with language difficulties, than women with the highest vitamin D levels.
The study examined 743 pregnant Caucasian women in Western Australia. Vitamin D levels were assessed at their 18th week of pregnancy. Researchers then tracked the children to see if there were any significant emotional, behavioral, or language problems.
Parents of the monitored children completed a child behavior checklist at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, 14, and 17, and language was measured at ages 5 and 10 with a vocabulary test.
The researchers found that women with the lowest vitamin D levels during the 18th week of pregnancy had a twofold increased risk in having a child with language difficulties, compared to women with the highest vitamin D levels. The results were significant even after adjusting for parental age, whether the mother smoked, and socioeconomic status.
The mothers’ vitamin D levels were not associated with an increased risk of emotional or behavior problems for the child.
The authors conclude, “The findings suggest that the trend over the past decade of a reduction in vitamin D levels among women of reproductive age has significant implications for offspring neurodevelopment and public health more generally.”