Children of mothers who are low in vitamin D during early pregnancy may be at greater risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) in adulthood compared to children with mothers who have higher vitamin D levels, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study was published March 7, 2016 in JAMA Neurology.
First author Kassandra Munger, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan, and colleagues looked at vitamin D levels in blood samples from women who participated in the Finnish Maternity Cohort—176 with children who had a MS diagnosis and 326 with children who did not.
The researchers found that children of vitamin D-deficient mothers had a 90% greater risk of developing MS than children of mother’s with higher vitamin D levels.
According to the authors, more study is needed. They note that maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy are not a direct measure of the vitamin D levels to which the fetus is exposed. They write that “while our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring, our study does not provide any information as to whether there is a dose-response effect with increasing levels of [vitamin D] sufficiency.”