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Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of MS in Children

Here's a really good reason to enjoy some sunshine while you're pregnant. New research out of Harvard University published in JAMA Neurology suggests that there may be a strong link between vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and an increased risk of those children developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

For the study researchers followed 193 people, 163 of them female, that had been diagnosed with MS and whose moms were part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort—a group whose prenatal serum samples had been stored since 1983 in order to study them in the future. Some 70 percent of the samples were taken during the first trimester. Upon examining the mothers' blood samples, researchers found that the children of the moms who had lower levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D)—an indicator of vitamin D—during pregnancy had a 90 percent increased chance of developing MS as adults.

Before you panic, researchers note that previous studies of Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and MS have not found a link, and that a pregnancy woman's 25(OH)D levels aren't a direct measure of the amount of 25(OH)D that the developing fetus is exposed to.

RELATED: Prenatal Nutrition Guide

According to study author Dr. Kassandra Munger, "While our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of 25(OH)D sufficiency. Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of 25(OH)D are needed."

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