HAMPSHIRE, United KingdomChildren are likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D in their body during pregnancy, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRCLEU) at the University of Southampton measured vitamin D levels in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy to determine whether variation in a mothers vitamin D status during pregnancy affects her child. When the children were 4 years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured.
Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced, association between mothers vitamin D and childs muscle mass.
Low vitamin D concentrations are common among young women, suggesting women should consume higher amounts of vitamin D during pregnancy.
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," said Nicholas Harvey, Ph.D., lead researcher and senior lecturer, University of Southampton. "It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at 4 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."
Further, children with low vitamin D levels have been linked to increased risk of anemia. Children with mild vitamin D deficiency are most at risk for anemia; these children have nearly twice the anemia risk of those with normal vitamin D levels.