Pregnant women should take care of their vitamin D status, is the message from a pediatrician in Uruguay. Marilyn Urrita-Pereira has spent 20 years researching the importance of the hormone vitamin D during pregnancy. Vitamin D is the hormone that controls the development of the fetus during pregnancy and deficiency can have dramatic consequences for both mother and child.
In 2015 Professor Dr. med Marilyn Urrutia-Pereira went through 20 years of scientific studies from the medical database Pubmed on pregnancy, childbirth and vitamin D deficiency. The goal was to find out what we know about the consequences of vitamin D deficiency for pregnant women. The report from the survey has become a milestone in child research and is cited in many later research reports around the world.
Doctors know a lot – mothers know little
The professor herself believes that the findings are dramatic and that the knowledge should have consequences for women all over the world. So far, it has definitely not done so. Vitamin D, which is a hormone that controls 3,000 genes, is defined as a dietary supplement and downplayed by both doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common condition among pregnant women and their children. Routine monitoring of vitamin D levels during childbirth must be mandatory . Early preventive measures should be taken at the slightest suspicion of Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women. It will reduce morbidity during pregnancy and lactation, as well as the subsequent effect on the fetus and the newborn.Pediatrician, Professor, Dr. med. Marilyn Urrutia-Pereira , UNIVERSITY OF PAMPA MEDICINE, Uruguaiana, Uruguay in the article « Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and its effects on the fetus, the newborn and in childhood «
The most important thing the professor from Uruguay points out is the consequence of vitamin D deficiency for the fetus. There are many researchers who point out that there is a lot that needs to be in place for the fetus to be programmed correctly. Lack of vitamin D reduces the risk of «typing errors» in the programming of genes that causes the child to be predisposed to serious diseases later in life.
Underdeveloped skeleton is the best documented consequence of vitamin D deficiency in newborns. Vitamin D is what causes the fetus to build bones during pregnancy. Lack of vitamin D causes the baby to have a leaner bone structure and can be born with the deficiency disease rickets .
Risk of skull fracture
A rash of poor bone structure can be the condition craniotabes . It can occur when the baby does not get to build strong enough bones because the mother can not provide enough vitamin D. Then the skull can become too thin (especially in the back of the head) and it takes little before the baby gets a skull fracture. Shaken baby syndrome has in several cases been shown to be related to vitamin D deficiency and the development of rickets during pregnancy.
Professor Marilyn Urrutia-Pereira is most concerned that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can make the child vulnerable to disease later in life. Among other things, it has been shown that girls born to mothers with vitamin D deficiency more often develop osteoporosis as they get older. It has also been shown that vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy gives the kids thinner tooth enamel and more caries when they get older.
May cause disease in adulthood
Development of the disease in adulthood is also associated with vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. The list is long: heart attack, high blood pressure and endocrine diseases such as diabetes. When Finland reduced the recommendation for vitamin D supplementation from 4000 IU to the Norwegian level of 400 IU, the incidence of dibetes 1 among children increased by 350%.
The beginning of pregnancy most critical
The most critical phase in the «programming» of the fetus, occurs in the first part of pregnancy. If not everything needed is in place, it can make the kid prone to disease later in life.
The closer fertilization these changes take place, the greater the potential for epigenetic defects in response to environmental changes. These changes in the placenta / embryo / fetus provide a probable explanation for the concept of «the fetus’ origin of adult diseases».Professor Marilyn Urrutia-Pereira
One of the reasons why health authorities around the world are paralyzed when it comes to vitamin D is that vitamin D deficiency is complicated, says Professor Urrutia-Pereira. It is not possible to create common rules that suit everyone. Physicians must consider the diversity of locations, latitude, season, ethnicity, body mass index, type of diet, lifestyle, skin pigmentation, family history of metabolic complications during pregnancy, physical activity, and method used to measure vitamin D status.
The bottom line is still clear: Start with vitamin D supplements and cure deficiencies.
Well documented survey
In her article, the professor refers to a number of research papers as sources for his conclusions. Here are some excerpts:
Fetal programming is a process in which a stimulus or understimulant during a certain developmental period will have effects throughout life .The article « In utero programming of chronic disease » (In utero = in the womb)
Environmental factors, especially maternal nutrition, act early in life to program the risk of adverse health outcomes, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome in adulthood.From the article «The developmental origins of adult health and disease: the role of perceptional and fetal nutrition «. (The term «Periconceptional» is defined as the period before and immediately after conception, and is a critical period in early development.)
The fetus’ original hypothesis states that malnutrition in the middle to late pregnancy, which leads to disproportionate fetal growth, later programs coronary heart disease .Dr. DJ Barker in the report « Fetal origins of coronary heart disease. »
The ‘Fetal Origins of Adult Disease’ or Barker hypothesis postulates that disturbed growth in the uterus can cause permanent physiological changes (programming) in the fetus. This is thought to increase susceptibility to chronic disease in adulthood , such as hypertension, coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.Cunninghan S, Cameron IT. Consequences of fetal growth restriction during childhood and adult life.
Nutritional exposure in early life is important factors for the development and future health of all organ systems. The dramatic increase in immune diseases in infants, especially allergies, indicates the specific vulnerability of the immune system to early environmental changes. The associated parallel increase in metabolic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes in children and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, highlights the interplay between modern dietary patterns and increasing abnormalities in both immune and metabolic health.Nutrition in early life, immune-programming and allergies: the role of epigenetics
Vitamin D supplements are associated with a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes . Ensuring adequate vitamin D supplementation in infants can help reverse the growing trend in the incidence of type 1 diabetes.Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study
Maternal vitamin D status affects the bone health of the offspring. In a British study, winter-born babies had lower bone mineral content than those born in the summer. Vitamin D status in late pregnancy was directly associated with bone mineral content of the lower back in offspring at the age of nine years.Vitamin D status during Pregnancy and Aspects of Offspring Health
This is how endocrinologists cure vitamin D deficiency
A medical association called the Endocrine Society, with 17,000 members, in 2011 made a recommendation for how to cure vitamin D deficiency. They recommend taking way more vitamin D than health authorities recommend every day for eight weeks.
We suggest that all adults with vitamin D deficiency be treated with 50,000 IU vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 once a week for 8 weeks or the equivalent of 6,000 IU vitamin D2 or vitamin D3 daily to achieve a blood level of vitamin D above 75 nmol/L , followed by maintenance treatment of 1500–2000 IU per day.Recommendation from the Endocrine Society
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be quite non-specific and include fatigue, altered mood and depression, insomnia, back pain, joint pain (especially in the wrists, ankles, shoulders and knees), muscle weakness, headaches and hair loss.