High Doses of Vitamin D May Cut Pregnancy Risks
Study Shows 4,000 IU a Day of Vitamin D May Reduce Preterm Birth and Other Risks
WebMD News Archive
Fewer Complications With High Vitamin D Doses continued...
The research was presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the
Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Infants with very low vitamin D levels are at increased risk for soft bones,
or rickets -- a condition that is now rare in the U.S.
But over the last decade, more and more studies suggest that vitamin D also
protects against immune system disorders and other diseases, Wagner says.
Fortified milk and fatty fish are common food sources of vitamin D, but most
people get only a small fraction of the vitamin D they need through food,
Wagner says. Instead, the body makes vitamin D from sunlight.
But even in sunny climates like Charleston, few people are now getting
adequate levels of vitamin D from sun exposure.
At the start of the study, deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D
were seen in 94% of the African-American women, 66% of Hispanic women, and 50%
of white women who participated.
Vitamin D and Pregnancy: Is More Better?
University of Rochester professor of pediatrics Ruth Lawrence, MD, has been
recording vitamin D levels in new mothers and their infants for three years.
She did not take part in the new study.
Lawrence, who chairs the breastfeeding committee of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, says exclusively breastfed babies whose mothers have low vitamin D
levels and who don't take vitamin supplements are most likely to be
"It is clear that both for mothers and their babies, vitamin D levels are
low," she tells WebMD. "This is true in northern areas like Rochester and in
sunny climates like Charleston."
Lawrence sees no problem with the recommendation that women take 4,000 IU of
vitamin D daily during pregnancy, although she says the impact of high doses of
vitamin D on pregnancy-related complications remains to be proven.
"Four thousand IU may sound outrageous to some, but I believe it is really
not unreasonable," she says.
"We have been searching for the causes of preeclampsia and premature birth
for many years. It is reassuring that the risk of these complications are lower
for women taking extra vitamin D, but it is premature to say it is the
The independent health policy group the Institute of Medicine recommends 200
IU to 400 IU of vitamin D a day for everyone, including pregnant women, but
this recommendation is under review. Revised guidelines are expected late this