Women with a low concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D at 15 weeks’ gestation were more likely to have children with a higher percentage body fat at age 5 years, a predictor of BMI and metabolic risk, according to findings published in the International Journal of Obesity.
In an analysis of mothers and children in New Zealand, researchers also found that maternal vitamin D concentration during pregnancy was not associated with incident asthma or eczema in offspring.
“Vitamin D promotes adipocyte maturation and inhibits adipocyte proliferation,” Veronica T. Boyle, PhD, of the National Centre for Growth and Development and the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and colleagues wrote. “An in utero insult such as vitamin D deficiency may, therefore, set a life-course toward fat accumulation. Asthma and eczema are also on the increase, and there are mechanisms by which vitamin D may play a role.”
Boyle and colleagues analyzed data from 1,715 women and 1,207 children from Auckland, New Zealand, participating in the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints Study (SCOPE), an international prospective cohort study aiming to identify early pregnancy predictors of late pregnancy complications. Women were recruited between 2005 and 2008 and completed interviews at 15 weeks’ gestation, in addition to providing blood samples to measure 25-(OH)D. BMI z scores in children were assessed at age 5 or 6 years; percentage body fat was measured in 1,176 children. Wheezing, asthma, severe asthma and eczema in children were identified in interviews.
Researchers found that, compared with children with a maternal 25-(OH)D concentration of at least 50 nmol/L, mean percentage body fat was higher in children with a maternal 25-(OH)D concentration less than 50 nmol/L (22.7% vs. 23.9%; P = .02). In linear regression analysis, each 10-nmol/L decrease in maternal 25-(OH)D was associated with an increase in child percentage body fat of 0.18% (P = .02). Researchers observed a similar association with body fat and maternal 25-(OH)D, with a 70-g increase per 10 nmol/L decrease, but there were no associations found between maternal 25-(OH)D and lean mass, weight, height or BMI z score.
Researchers observed no differences in maternal 25-(OH)D levels among children who had asthma vs. those who did not have asthma. There were also no associations found between maternal 25-(OH)D and eczema in children.
“The finding that lower maternal [25-(OH)D] concentration is associated with higher [percentage body fat] in children is important at a time when obesity is so prevalent,” the researchers wrote. “A small reduction in adiposity of the individuals has the potential for large population benefits. Our findings support the inclusion of formal measurements of adiposity in the children of participants of randomized trials of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy.” – by Regina Schaffer
Disclosures: One of the authors reports receiving speaking fees from companies selling nutrition products, and participating in an academic consortium that has received research funding from Abbot Nutrition, Danone and Nestle. The other authors report no relevant financial disclosures.