Call for further trials on vitamin D effect in pregnancy

01 December 2017 09:04

Pre-natal vitamin D is given out routinely at antenatal appointments

Pre-natal vitamin D is given out routinely at antenatal appointments

Recommendations for pregnant women to take vitamin D could be ill-founded, according to a new study.

The research analysed results from more than 8,000 women, and concluded there is "insufficient" evidence of the supplement's benefits, against historical claims that it protects against pregnancy-related conditions such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

The authors are now calling on new trials to determine how vitamin D affects maternal issues.

"The evidence to date seems insufficient to guide clinical or policy recommendations," they said. "Future trials should be designed and powered to examine clinical endpoints, including maternal conditions related to pregnancy (such as pre-eclampsia), infant growth, and respiratory outcomes."

The study

The Canadian research team devised the study to review the effects of using the supplement during pregnancy.

Past studies show Vitamin D maintains healthy levels of calcium in the body, keeping bones, muscles and teeth in good condition.

Some also loosely show that the supplement can positively impact upon pre-eclampsia risk, infant growth and respiratory conditions.

However, analysis of 43 separate trials, involving 8,406 pre-natal women, concludes that outcomes affecting pregnancy were "rarely ascertained or reported".

Authors of the report also state that past research outcomes do "not provide evidence of benefits".

Routine in antenatal care

Recommendations by the World Health Organisation (WHO) advise against pregnant women taking the vitamin.

Despite this, clinicians in the UK have been giving out vitamin D almost routinely in antenatal clinics for many years, says, Dr Christoph Lees, clinical reader in obstetrics at Imperial College London.

He continued: "It is time to stop and think about whether it is of any proven value. And this very comprehensive paper suggests not.

"The only indication for which vitamin D might be useful - infant rickets - it showed no efficacy to prevent...It's time to consider carefully what it is we are trying to prevent with its use."

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