July 12 (UPI) – Research suggests that a vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has negative effects on social development, motor skills in preschool age children.
Researchers from the University of Surrey and the University of Bristol in Britain gathered data from more than 7,000 mother-child pairs, finding pregnant women who were deficient in vitamin D were more likely to have children with low scores in preschool development tests of gross and fine motor development at age 2 and a half.
The study, published July 12 in the British Journal of Nutrition, also showed that vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy affected a child’s social development at age 3 and a half.
But no link was found between maternal vitamin D levels and cognitive abilities at older ages such as 7 to 9.
“The importance of vitamin D sufficiency should not be underestimated. It is well-known to be good for our musculoskeletal systems, but our research shows that if levels are low in expectant mothers, it can affect the development of their children in their early years of life,” Dr. Andrea Darling of the University of Surrey, said in a press release.
Researchers state that interactions between vitamin D and dopamine in the brain of the fetus are vital to the neurological development of brain areas that control motor and social development.
Vitamin D comes from the sun and diet, including dairy products, oily fish, red meat, eggs and fortified foods.
“Many pregnant women, especially those from minority groups with darker skin [e.g. African, African-Caribbean or South Asian], will still need to take a 10 micrograms vitamin D supplement daily, particularly in the autumn and winter when vitamin D cannot be made from the sun in the UK,” Darling said.