Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Vitamin D in Pregnancy May Be Key for Baby's Brain

Majority of Women Get Inadequate Amounts of Key Vitamin

Walker says certain groups have a higher risk of missing out on adequate levels of vitamin D. Those groups include women who are overweight or obese, women from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and women with darker skin.

Geography also plays a role. People from northern states, which don’t get much sun during wintertime, often have lower levels of vitamin D.

“Even here in L.A., where it’s often sunny, people don’t get enough sun, because of smog, because they stay indoors, or because they use a lot of sunblock,” Walker says.

How Much D Is Enough?

Access to vitamin D -- whether through sunlight, food sources, dietary supplements, or a combination -- is not the only issue. It’s not clear how much vitamin D is enough to ensure healthy development, says Morales, who adds that trials are under way to determine just that.

Walker says that prenatal vitamins taken by pregnant women often provide 400 IU (international units) of D. Regardless, there's not enough research yet to say whether supplementing with more vitamin D would help.

“This study shows a relationship, not cause and effect,” says Leonardo Pereira, MD. “Would supplements improve development? We don’t know.”

Pereira, head of maternal-fetal medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, says this study “supports a role for vitamin D in neurological development, but it is not definitive evidence that should change how we practice.”

Pereira, who was not involved in the study, does not test his pregnant patients for vitamin D deficiency. But if a patient is known to have a deficiency, he will make sure to get them up to adequate levels.

“What will this mean for pregnancy outcomes? Again, we don’t know,” he says.

Walker says that although the study will not change what doctors tell their patients, it should serve as a reminder of the importance of optimizing health and nutrition.

“Being healthy matters for your pregnancy and for how well your child does later on,” she says. “Nutrition is absolutely critical to how well children do.”

1 | 2

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