Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta
Pregnant women should consume a nutrient-rich diet. It is good to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. They should avoid processed food, fatty red meat, and, sweetened foods and beverages. The developing baby in the womb receives nutrition from the mother. Low nutrition increases the risk of diseases and development issues in children. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is common in India. Low sun exposure, a vegetarian diet, darker skin, and skin damage are risks for vitamin D deficiency. Here, we explore how vitamin D deficiency can affect the child of a pregnant woman.
How does the concentration of vitamin D vary during pregnancy?
Pregnancy has three stages, three trimesters of three months each. The first trimester is the time between conception and week 12. Weeks 13 to 27 constitute the second trimester. The final trimester is the time between weeks 28 and 40. Pregnancy is a total of 42 weeks.
Research suggests that levels of vitamin D double during pregnancy’s first trimester. They further double or triple during the remaining duration of pregnancy. After childbirth, the vitamin D levels fall back to normal.
Who is at risk of developing low vitamin D levels during pregnancy?
The risk of developing maternal vitamin D deficiency lies among specific populations:
- Females who take vegetarian diets
- Females with low sun exposure. Cold climates, northern latitudes, and high air pollution areas can reduce daily sun intake. Seasons also play a role.
- Females with darker skin
- Low-age pregnant females
- Less educated females
- Females with skin ageing and skin damage
It is ideal to undergo vitamin D screening during pregnancy.
What are the low vitamin D symptoms in females during pregnancy?
Pregnancy disturbs the quality of physical life. Pregnancy-related symptoms are frequent urination, tiredness, back pain, and nausea. On top of that, a vitamin D deficiency increases the severity of these symptoms.
Tiredness, muscle pain, back pain, and poor sleep are common in pregnant women with vitamin D deficiency. Scientists gave deficient pregnant women vitamin D supplements daily for three months. They found that vitamin supplementation increased muscle strength and lowered back pain.
Does vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy have an impact?
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining the growth of pregnant women and their babies. Vitamin D from the mother is the main source of this nutrient for the developing baby.
As vitamin D concentrations increase during pregnancy, it has a significant role. Low vitamin D levels can negatively impact the health of pregnant women and their babies. A Vitamin D deficiency can cause complications during pregnancy. These include gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, abortion, caesarean surgery, and premature birth.
A mother’s vitamin D deficiency can cause vitamin D deficiency in the newborn. This deficiency can retard the neurodevelopment of children. A low vitamin D level during the first trimester can lead to poor thinking and language capabilities in children. A vitamin D deficiency during the third trimester can result in low motor skills.
Furthermore, a vitamin D deficiency impairs the proper mineralization of teeth. Thus, children born to vitamin D-deficient mothers may have weak teeth. Lower vitamin D levels during the third trimester increase the likelihood of caries in milk teeth.
A mother’s vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets in the infant. Symptoms of infantile rickets include a prominent forehead, widening of the wrists, bowing of the legs, and fractures. The child can later have short height, weak muscles, and bone deformities.
What is the role of a mother’s vitamin D deficiency in foetal development?
Scientists suggest that vitamin D deficiency impairs foetal development. The foetuses of mothers with vitamin D deficiency have problems with bone development. Their breast and head diameters are smaller. The length of the foetus is short. Such babies are at risk of developing small for gestational age (SGA). The chances of SGA and death until 24 months after childbirth are higher in these babies.
Along with bone development, a vitamin D deficiency can also impair foetal lung development. It increases the risk of lung disorders in newborns. Respiratory distress syndrome is one such disorder.
How do you treat vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy?
WHO does not recommend supplementation with vitamin D for pregnant ladies. Maintaining vitamin D levels through balanced nutrition and sun exposure is best. Fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, cheese, fortified milk, and orange juice are rich in vitamin D. WHO recommends daily 200 IU (5 µg) of vitamin D supplements only for deficient women. However, before taking supplements, it is best to consult your doctor.
Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.