Children of mothers with vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy appeared to be at greater risk of developing multiple sclerosis in adulthood, according to US researchers.
A team from the Chan School of Public Health in Boston said that while elevated levels of vitamin D have been associated with a decreased risk of MS in adulthood, some previous research also has suggested that vitamin D exposure in utero may be a risk factor for the condition in later life.
They set out to examine whether deficient blood levels of vitamin D in early pregnancy were associated with the risk of MS in children.
They identified 193 individuals with a diagnosis of MS whose mothers were part of an earlier study in Finland and matched 176 case patients with 326 control participants for comparison.
The majority of maternal blood samples (70%) had been collected during the first trimester and the average maternal vitamin D levels were in the insufficient vitamin D range.
The risk of MS as an adult was 90% higher in children of mothers who were vitamin-D deficient, compared with the children of mothers who were not vitamin D deficient, according to the results.
In the journal JAMA Neurology, the study authors said: “Our results suggest that vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy increases MS risk in the offspring”.