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Higher Vitamin D Levels During Pregnancy Linked To Stronger Babies

A new study found that babies can be born with stronger muscles if their mothers have higher levels of vitamin D while pregnant, according to University of Southampton researchers.

Samantha Goodwin, Headline & Global News, Jan 6, 2014

Though many studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D to reduced muscle strength, this is one of the few studies that looks into how a mother's level of vitamin D while pregnant affects the new-born child, according to a press release.

"These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures," lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, said in a press statement. "It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age."

A total of 678 pregnant women took part in this study. The children born to these mothers were followed for four years and then their grip strength and muscle mass were measured. The findings revealed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child.

"This study forms part of a larger program of research at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and University of Southampton in which we are seeking to understand how factors such as diet and lifestyle in the mother during pregnancy influence a child's body composition and bone development," the authors concluded. "This work should help us to design interventions aimed at optimizing body composition in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations."

Higher vitamin D level is also necessary for the proper development of the growing child. Women are recommended to take an additional 10μg/day of vitamin D in pregnancy. Unfortunately, not many women abide by these recommendations. 

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