Lower Asthma Risk From Prenatal Vitamin D Unconfirmed But Supplement Isn't a Bad Idea: Experts

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Jan 27, 2016 06:29 AM EST

SYDNEY, NSW - JUNE 07: A pregnant woman holds her stomach June 7, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Australia is currently enjoying a baby boom, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics registering a 2.4% increase in births from 2004 to 2005, which represents the highest number of births since 1992. The Australian Federal Government has been encouraging people to have more babies, with financial incentives and the slogan by treasurer Peter Costello to 'have one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country'. The Federal Government has identified falling fertility rates and the ageing population as long-term problems for Australia's growth and prosperity. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images) (Photo : Getty Images)

Recent studies have linked vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to increase cases of asthma in young children. However, two clinical studies published in the January 26 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveal that there's no evidence to prove that vitamin D can reduce the risk for asthma in young children.

WebMD reports details on the two studies conducted to establish a link in vitamin D deficiency and an increase in asthma cases among children. A team led by Dr. Hans Bisgaard of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark tracked outcomes of more than 600 pregnancies. Their children were monitored until they were three years old.

Medical Express reports that persistent wheezing was diagnosed during the first three years of life in 47 children in the vitamin D3 group (mothers were given higher levels of vitamin D3 during pregnancy). Meanwhile, the 57 children in the control group developed persistent wheezing despite getting Vitamin D supplement as required during pregnancy.

It was found that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy did not decrease the incidence of children developing asthma, chronic wheezing, upper and lower respiratory tract infections or autoimmune skin disorder, according to Bisgaard and his team.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increasing rates of childhood asthma in Western nations. There have been speculations that Vitamin D deficiency may affect immune system development of the fetus, increasing the risk for asthma during childhood.

There were also suggestions that a low umbilical cord level of vitamin D during birth is associated with childhood asthma.

The second study included almost 900 pregnant women whose children were considered to have a high risk of developing asthma. Two groups were formed: one taking vitamin D and their prenatal vitamin which also contains vitamin D and the other taking placebo and their prenatal vitamin. The women started taking the vitamins beginning week 10 to week 18 of their pregnancy.

It was found that 24 percent of the children whose mother took higher levels of vitamin D developed asthma or chronic wheezing. Meanwhile, 30 percent developed asthma or chronic wheezing in the other group. According to the researchers, the 6 percent difference is not considered significant.

Dr. Augusto Litonjua of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, lead author of the study, said that further study is needed to fully establish the link between Vitamin D and the risk for asthma during childhood.

However, there is no harm in taking vitamin D during pregnancy. Vitamin D is essential in the development of bones during pregnancy. It also helps the immune system and wound healing.

Know more about vitamin D during pregnancy in the video below:

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