Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy linked to suboptimal early neurocognitive development

Study in The British Journal of Nutrition finds a link between vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and delays in neurocognitive development in the first 42 months of a child’s life.

Toddler playing

Previous research has linked oily fish consumption during pregnancy to positive effects on early cognitive development, which could be related to its high vitamin D content.

To explore, researchers at the Universities of Surrey and Bristol analysed data on vitamin D status during pregnancy and measures of offspring neurodevelopment up to the age of nine among 7,065 mother-child pairs.

They found that those born to vitamin D-deficient mothers were more likely to have sub-optimal gross-motor development (odds ratio [OR] 1.20) and fine-motor development at 30 months (OR 1.23) as well as sub-optimal social development at 42 months (OR 1.20) than those born to mothers with sufficient vitamin D levels. However, there was no association with neurodevelopmental outcomes in older children, including intelligence quotient.

Reporting in The British Journal of Nutrition
(online, 12 July 2017), the team say the results indicate that preventing vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy could have a beneficial impact on some aspects of early neurocognitive development.


[1] Darling A, Rayman M, Steer C et al. Association between maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Br J Nutri 2017; doi: 10.1017/S0007114517001398

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy linked to suboptimal early neurocognitive development;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2017.20203283

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