Pregnancy in dark winters Implications for fetal bone growth

Capsule:
The high prevalence of maternal hypovitaminosis D in women who are pregnant during winter months in northern latitudes may have detrimental effects on fetal skeletal growth.

Authors:
Jennifer M. Walsh, M.B., Mark Kilbane, Ph.D., Ciara A. McGowan, B.Sc., Malachi J. McKenna, M.D., Fionnuala M. McAuliffe, M.D.

Volume 99, Issue 1, Pages 206-211, January 2013

Abstract:

Objective:
To prospectively examine the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in pregnancy and to correlate maternal and fetal vitamin D to fetal anthropometry.

Design:
A prospective cohort study.

Setting:
Tertiary referral maternity hospital.

Patients:
Sixty pregnant women.

Intervention:
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) was measured in early pregnancy, at 28 weeks, and in cord blood at delivery.

Main outcome measures:
The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D and the relationship between fetal growth and serum 25OHD concentrations.

Results:
Two subgroups were analyzed to examine results in the context of seasonal variation in 25OHD: a winter and a summer cohort. Fetal anthropometry was assessed at 20 and 34 weeks, and at delivery the neonatal anthropometry was recorded. There was a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D ranging from 33% to 97%, with a marked seasonal variation. Fetal 25OHD concentrations correlated with all biometry at 20 weeks. In the winter cohort, a correlation was found between early pregnancy 25OHD and femur length at 20 weeks, and between 28-week 25OHD and femur length at 34 weeks. Infant length was shorter in those with early pregnancy 25OHD less than the median (52.1 vs. 53.6 cm).

Conclusion:
The high prevalence of maternal hypovitaminosis D during winter months in northern latitudes may have detrimental effects on fetal skeletal growth.

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