Maternal Levels of Vitamin D During Gestation May Dictate Multiple Sclerosis in Offspring

APRIL 13, 2016
Rachel Lutz
During pregnancy, a mother’s vitamin D deficiency may increase her child’s risk for multiple sclerosis (MS), according to findings published in JAMA Neurology. Previous research has indicated that elevated levels of vitamin D is linked to decreased risk for MS in adulthood, but it has also shown that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for MS later in life.
Researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health studied almost 200 MS patients in order to examine whether vitamin D levels in early pregnancy were associated with a child’s risk of MS. These patients mothers’ were part of the Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC) and the researchers matched them to more than 300 control participants for comparison measurements of region of birth in Finland, date of maternal serum sample collection, date of mother’s birth and date of child’s birth.
Most of the blood samples were collected during the first trimester and showed average maternal vitamin D levels were categorized as “insufficient.” For children born to mothers with insufficient vitamin D levels, their risk for MS was 90 percent higher than children born to mothers who were not vitamin D deficient.
“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 [vitamin D] sufficiency,” the study authors concluded. “Similar studies in populations with a wider distribution of [vitamin D] are needed.”

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