Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy can contribute to childhood obesity.

A study that followed 532 mother-child pairs from early pregnancy through age six found an inverse correlation between maternal vitamin D levels and child obesity. One-third of the women in the study had very low 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations as measured in the first half of pregnancy. Measurements of obesity markers obtained at age four showed significantly increased body mass index and waist circumference in the children of very low vitamin D mothers.


This outcome was slightly increased at age six, at which time body fat percentage was measured and also found to be higher among the children in this group. A proposed mechanism follows studies showing that vitamin D can inhibit the conversion of pre-adipocytes into mature fat cells, suggesting that children exposed to very low vitamin D in early gestation might develop a higher adipose cell count. This study highlights the importance of monitoring vitamin D levels, especially during pregnancy.

Contributed by Sheena Smith, MS

Daraki V, Roumeliotaki T, Chalkiadaki G, et al. Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatr Obes 2018 Jan 28. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12267. [Epub ahead of print]