A new study shows a possible link between vitamin D deficiency and a pregnancy condition called preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition which usually occurs at the end of pregnancy that is characterized by high blood pressure as well as protein in urine. Without treatment it can become very serious and can affect the delivery of the baby.
Early onset preeclampsia is not very common. It occurs in only about 2 or 3% of pregnancies. Nevertheless it is responsible for about 15% of premature births yearly. The definition of "early onset" is when it occurs before the 34th week of pregnancy.
In this new study that was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a mere 10 ng/ml increase in vitamin D blood level, resulted in a 63% reduction in the incidence of early onset preeclampsia.
Christopher Robinson, MD, MSCR, the principal author on the paper was quoted as saying " It is biologically plausible that the vitamin could affect preeclampsia risk. Vitamin D acts as a hormone, and lab research has found that it may affect the regulation and function of proteins in the placenta; problems in the development of the placenta are believed to be at the roots of preeclampsia."
The authors of the study were quick to point out that further study is needed to understand the role of vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy. The study, although it had very strong statistics, had only 100 patients.
Once again we now see another aspect of the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy. It is my recommendation in my practice of medicine that pregnant women take 4000 IU of vitamin D every day, and this amount is adjusted according to blood tests that we do every trimester.
Have you had your blood tested for vitamin D? Do your family and friends who are pregnant take enough vitamin D? The amount of vitamin D in a normal prenatal vitamin is only 400 IU, and no vitamin D researchers that I know consider this to be nearly sufficient for pregnancy.
I look forward to hearing your comments.