Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may account for reduced fetal growth and for altered neonatal development. The present study explored the association between maternal vitamin D status measured early in pregnancy and birth weight, prevalence of small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants and postnatal growth (weight and length), as well as the potential role of vitamin D status in explaining ethnic disparities in these outcomes. Data were derived from a large multi-ethnic cohort in The Netherlands (Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) cohort), and included 3730 women with live-born singleton term deliveries. Maternal serum vitamin D was measured during early pregnancy (median 13 weeks, interquartile range: 12–14), and was labelled ‘deficient’ ( ≤ 29·9 nmol/l), ‘insufficient’ (30–49·9 nmol/l) or ‘adequate’ ( ≥ 50 nmol/l). Six ethnic groups were distinguished: Dutch, Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan, other non-Western and other Western. Associations with neonatal outcomes were analysed using multivariate regression analyses. Results showed that compared with women with adequate vitamin D levels, women with deficient vitamin D levels had infants with lower birth weights ( − 114·4 g, 95 % CI − 151·2, − 77·6) and a higher risk of SGA (OR 2·4, 95 % CI 1·9, 3·2). Neonates born to mothers with a deficient vitamin D status showed accelerated growth in weight and length during the first year of life. Although a deficient vitamin D status influenced birth weight, SGA risk and neonatal growth, it played a limited role in explaining ethnic differences. Although vitamin D supplementation might be beneficial to those at risk of a deficient vitamin D status, more research is needed before a nationwide policy on the subject can be justified.
(Received September 11 2009)
(Revised January 06 2010)
(Accepted January 12 2010)
(Online publication March 02 2010)
The work was performed at the Department of Epidemiology, Documentation and Health Promotion. Public Health Service of Amsterdam, PO Box 2200, 1000 CE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Abbreviations: 25(OH)D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D; ABCD, Amsterdam Born Children and their Development; SDS, standard deviation scores; SGA, small-for-gestational-age; YHC, youth health care