Once again, Vitamin D is making the news.
A new study has linked low vitamin D levels in mothers to a 5-fold increased risk of preeclampsia, a serious complication in pregnancy which can lead to fetal death. Preeclampsia is marked by soaring blood pressure and swelling of the hands and feet. It is the leading cause of premature delivery and maternal and fetal illness and death worldwide and may contribute to over 76,000 deaths each year!
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh writing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism said that there was a risk of preeclampsia even with supplementation of up to 400 International Units (IU). Still, they concluded that "Vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored for preventing preeclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being."
This study is just extra fuel on the fire for the importance of vitamin D, which has been linked to a host of health benefits, including cancer (breast and colon cancer), improving diabetes prospects, and heart health.
Women who developed preeclampsia had vitamin D concentrations that were significantly lower early in pregnancy compared to women whose pregnancies were normal. And even though vitamin D deficiency was common in both groups, the deficiency was more prevalent among those who went on to develop preeclampsia.
Data was analyzed for 1,198 women enrolled in the Pregnancy Exposures and Preeclampsia Prevention Study, a prospective survey designed to examine factors that may predispose women to preeclampsia. Out of this group, 55 cases of preeclampsia and 220 controls were selected for further study.
Low vitamin D early in pregnancy was associated with a five-fold increase in the odds of preeclampsia.