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Maternal vitamin D status tied to offspring obesity risk

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February 1, 2018

The risk for childhood obesity at age 4 and 6 years is increased in children born to mothers with very low vitamin D status, study data show.

Vasiliki Daraki, MD, of the department of social medicine, faculty of medicine at the University of Crete in Greece, and colleagues evaluated data from the prospective pregnancy cohort “Rhea” on 532 mother-child pairs to determine the association of maternal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level with offspring obesity and cardiometabolic characteristics at age 4 and 6 years.

At the first gestational visit (mean, 14 weeks), maternal serum 25-(OH)D concentrations were measured. Children’s BMI standard deviation (SD) score, waist circumference, skin-fold thickness, blood pressure and serum lipids were recorded at age 4 (mean age, 4.2 years) and 6 years (mean age, 6.5 years).

During pregnancy, the mean age of the women was 29.7 years, 23% had overweight (BMI 25 to < 30 kg/m2), 14% had obesity ( 30 kg/m2) and 9% were diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Mean circulating 25-(OH)D level was 46.3 nmol/L–1, and one-third of the women had “very low” vitamin D level less than 37.7 nmol/L–1.

In the first half of pregnancy, a 10-nmol/L–1 decrement in maternal 25-(OH)D concentration was inversely associated with offspring BMI SD score (beta = 0.06) and waist circumference (beta = 0.24) at 4 years, after adjustment for multiple confounders. Children born to mothers in the lowest 25-(OH)D tertile had higher BMI SD score (beta = 0.2) and larger waist circumference by 0.87 cm at 4 years compared with children born to mothers with 25-(OH)D concentrations at least 37.7 nmol/L–1 in the fully adjusted models. The findings persisted at age 6 years. At 6 years, body fat percentage was greater in children born to mothers in the lowest tertile compared with higher levels (beta = 1.59). Higher 25-(OH)D concentrations were consistently observed in children of mothers with lower compared with higher 25-(OH)D values at 4.5 years.

Children’s BP measurements and lipid concentrations were not statistically significantly different across maternal 25-(OH)D status groups.

Higher BMI SD scores and waist circumferences were observed among children of mothers with normal weight or overweight and 25-(OH)D concentrations less than 37.7 nmol/L–1, whereas children of mothers with obesity and low 25-(OH)D concentrations tended to have lower BMI SD scores and waist circumference at age 4 and 6 years (P for interaction < .1).

“Our findings support that very low 25-(OH)D concentrations in the first half of pregnancy may increase offspring adiposity indices at preschool and school age,” the researchers wrote. “Further studies and clinical trials are needed to explore the role of [vitamin D] supplementation during pregnancy in childhood obesity prevention.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.