Crucial Information About Winter Babies, Countering Previous Vitamin D Research

Midwives and doctors have known that vitamin D supplementation is important for some people for some time, but research has regularly shown that supplementing babies doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference. As it turns out though, the study designs probably had everything to do with the uncertain results. New an important research that was just published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. This latest study is a a multicenter, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial and it takes into consideration the most obvious an important aspect of vitamin D research: The season.

Vitamin D can be acquired from fortified drinks, fish oils and supplements, but most importantly, it is produced in the skin in response to particular rays from the sun. Much of the world spends a significant amount of time not exposed to the proper rays that would make vitamin D within the body. Here’s the really important factor: Babies that are born in the winter usually do not get the benefit of sun-acquired vitamin D.

Keeping in mind that vitamin D affects nearly countless aspects of human health, bone health is a highly prevalent and easily measured area of research, so that is what the new study examines. Early growth in utero and early infancy affects long-term skeletal growth and bone mass. This means that vitamin D deficiency early in development likely impacts bone health later in life.

Prenatal vitamins usually contain 400 IUs of vitamin D per dose, but the Food and Nutrition Board at the IOM of the National Academies state that vitamin D intake during pregnancy should be at least 600 IUs. Endocrinologists generally suggest doses that are significantly higher, after testing is done to determine deficiency.

Prof. Cyrus Cooper and Prof. Nicholas Harvey from the University of Southampton in the UK led the research team that claims that the most recent study before theirs found that there was no real difference in the bone mass of babies born to women who were supplementing vitamin D compared to women who didn’t supplement.

Here’s the problem. The earlier analysis, the researchers say, did not take into account the season. When examined by season, among mothers who gave birth in winter, “vitamin D concentrations fell from 14-34 weeks’ gestation in women from the placebo group, whereas they rose in women who took vitamin D supplements,” according to Medical News Today.

”Babies’ bones strengthen during the last stages of pregnancy. Since sunlight is our most important source of vitamin D, mothers’ levels of vitamin D tend to drop from summer to winter, and babies born in the winter months tend to have lower bone density than those born during the summer.”

Knowing this is important to far more than just bone health though. Vitamin D levels impacts babies’ likelihood of getting the flu, of developing allergies, of developing atopic disease and auto-immune disease and possibly even risks of cognitive problems.

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If you think you or your baby may be at risk for vitamin D deficiency, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested.

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