Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    New Clues to Vitamin D-Insulin Sensitivity Link?

    Higher Vitamin D at Birth May Protect Against Insulin Resistance Later
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Oct. 11, 2010 (San Diego) -- Higher levels of vitamin D in newborns are linked with better insulin sensitivity at age 3, perhaps reducing their obesity risk, according to a new study.

    "This study suggests that higher vitamin D levels at birth may protect against insulin resistance, which is linked to obesity," says researcher Susanna Y. Huh, MD, MPH, a doctor at Children's Hospital Boston and instructor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

    She presented the findings at the Obesity Society's 28th annual scientific meeting in San Diego.

    Vitamin D, Baby's Obesity Risk: What's the Link?

    ''It's a fairly recent hypothesis that vitamin D affects the risk of obesity," Huh says. Evidence of the link has been accumulating in recent years, she says.

    For her study, she measured the vitamin D blood levels of 990 pregnant women during their second trimester and levels in the cord blood of 629 newborns.

    She evaluated the children at age 3, evaluating their body mass index and other factors.

    She measured the hormone adiponectin, produced by fat cells. The more adiponectin, the leaner one tends to be, she says. "You tend to be more insulin sensitive."

    Being more insulin sensitive -- as opposed to resistant -- reduces the risk of obesity.

    "We found that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with higher levels of adiponectin in the blood at age 3," she tells WebMD.

    "The correlation was only for the cord blood," she says. "We did not see a correlation during pregnancy. It may be that in this case perhaps having higher levels of vitamin D status around the time of birth is more important than during the second trimester."

    "There is not a definite level of adiponectin that is good or bad," she says. "You can't say you need 'X' amount of adiponectin to not be at risk for obesity."

    In her study, Huh found that more than half the women had blood levels of vitamin D considered by most experts to be too low. The link needs to be studied more, she says.

    "Adiponectin at this early an age has not been extensively studied,'' she says, even though it is well established as a marker of insulin sensitivity.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares