Latest News » Pregnant women at risk of vitamin D deficiency despite sunlight exposure

In spite of its nickname as the "sunshine vitamin," the sun may not be an adequate enough source of vitamin D for pregnant women.

In spite of its nickname as the "sunshine vitamin," the sun may not be an adequate enough source of vitamin D for pregnant women.

In spite of its nickname as the "sunshine vitamin," the sun may not be an adequate enough source of vitamin D for pregnant women. Consequently, women carrying children, regardless of their exposure to sunlight, may still be at risk for vitamin D deficiencies, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Aristotle University of Thes​saloniki, Greece evaluated 2,649 pregnant women and 1,802 newborns throughout Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey to gauge their vitamin D levels. It was once commonly held that high sunlight exposure along the Mediterranean provided ample quantities of vitamin D for women in the region and reduced the risk of hypovitaminosis compared to those living in Northern Europe. What the study team found, though, was just the opposite: factors like skin color, race and even what the women were wearing outweighed the health benefits of vitamin D and put them at risk for a deficiency.

This is an especially alarming finding because vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women raise the risk for early childhood diseases like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, as well as bone formation disorders, a higher possibility for an emergency c-section or premature birth.

"Racial, social and cultural habits, as well as the absence of preventive strategies, seem to negate the benefits of sun exposure," said the study's authors, who shared their research at the annual European Congress of Endocrinology in Dublin. "Pregnant women with vitamin D deficiencies may be at greater risk of various problems and complications, both for themselves and their babies. It's imperative for pregnant women and the medical community at large, to recognize the importance of vitamin D in overall health."

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