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Maternal vitamin D in pregnancy may influence not only offspring bone mass but other aspects of musculoskeletal health and adiposity
journal contributionposted on 2008-08-01, 00:00 authored by Julie PascoJulie Pasco, J Wark, J Carlin, A L Ponsonby, Peter VuillerminPeter Vuillermin, R Morley
Osteoporotic fractures, falls and obesity are major health problems in developed nations. Evidence suggests that there are antenatal factors predisposing to these conditions. Data are emerging from Australia and elsewhere to suggest that maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy affects intrauterine skeletal mineralisation and skeletal growth together with muscle development and adiposity. Given that low levels of vitamin D have been documented in many urbanised populations, including those in countries with abundant sunlight, an important issue for public health is whether maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy has adverse effects on offspring health. The developing fetus may be exposed to low levels of vitamin D during critical phases of development as a result of maternal hypovitaminosis D. We hypothesise that this may have adverse effects on offspring musculoskeletal health and other aspects of body composition. Further research focused on the implications of poor gestational vitamin D nutrition is warranted as these developmental effects are likely to have a sustained influence on health during childhood and in adult life. We suggest that there is a clear rationale for randomised clinical trials to assess the potential benefits and harmful effects of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.