Having Low Vitamin D At Birth Increases Risk Of Developing Multiple Sclerosis

First Posted: Dec 03, 2016 03:20 AM EST

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of a number of debilitating conditions that affects more than 2 million people worldwide. Researchers have been analyzing different factors that may potentially prevent and treat the disorder. Now, a new study claims that intake of vitamin D during pregnancy may lower the risk of the offspring from developing multiple sclerosis.

Vitamin D deficiency is common among the general population, including pregnant women. However, the researchers said it is too soon to routinely recommend "sunshine vitamin" supplements for mothers-to-be, Health Day reported.

Dr. Nete Munk Nielsen, from the State Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, and his team conducted a large population-based, case-control study to examine the connection between the neonatal status of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD), a known marker of vitamin D levels, and MS risk.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the nationwide Danish MS registry and the Danish Newborn Screening Biobank (DNSB). The DNSB stores dried blood spots samples from newborn screening tests.

The researchers determined and selected everyone born after April 30, 1981 and who had developed MS by 2012. This resulted in a total of 521 people participating in the study. They then compared the blood from these people with those of 972 other people of the same sex, born on the same date, but did not develop MS.

According to Medical News Today, the study, published in the journal Neurology, considered 25OHD levels between 30 nanomoles per liter and lower than 50 nanomoles per liter as insufficient, and levels higher than or equal to 50 nanomoles per liter as sufficient

Those who participated in the study were divided into five groups, based on their vitamin D level. The bottom group had levels lower than 21 nanomoles per liter, while the top group had levels equal to or above 49 nanomoles per liter.

Overall, participants with the highest levels of vitamin D were 47 percent less likely to develop MS later in life than those with the lowest levels. MS risk was also low with the increase of 25OHD levels. In fact, for every 25 nanomoles per liter increase in neonatal 25OHD, the risk of MS dropped by 30 percent.

According to the authors, their study was conducted to further confirm the protective role of vitamin D in the development of MS, as well as determining that having low levels of vitamin D in utero may influence the risk of developing the disorder.

However, Dr. Nielsen emphasizes the fact that the study does not demonstrate that increased vitamin D directly reduces the risk of MS, but rather only presents an association.

"More research is needed to confirm these results, but considering that a high percentage of pregnant women worldwide have low levels of vitamin D our results may provide important information to the ongoing debate about vitamin D supplements for pregnant women," he said.

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