High vitamin D in pregnancy key to baby's growth

London, Jan 4 : For a pregnant mother, keeping vitamin D intake on the higher side could help ensure stronger muscles in children as they grow old.

Low vitamin D status has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children, but little was known about how variation in a mother's status during pregnancy affects her child till date, said a new study.

"These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health. Muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures," said Nicholas Harvey, senior lecturer at University of Southampton in Britain.

Billed as one of the largest and best characterised study globally, researchers measured vitamin D levels in 678 mothers who were in the later stages of pregnancy.

When the children were four years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured.

Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, said the study published in the journal of "Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism".

It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels would help reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age," added Harvey.

Low vitamin D concentrations are common among young women. Although they are recommended to take an additional 10µg/day of vitamin D in pregnancy, supplementation is often not taken up, concluded the study.

"This work should help us design interventions aimed at optimising body composition in childhood and later adulthood and thus improve the health of future generations," said Cyrus Cooper, director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton.

--IANS (Posted on 04-01-2014)

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