The author of the study, Jonatan Salzer, MD and neurologist at Umeå University Hospital says:
“In our study, pregnant women and women in general had a lower risk for MS with higher levels of the vitamin, as expected. However, a mother’s levels of vitamin D during early pregnancy did not have an effect on MS risk for her baby.”
Low vitamin D levels are associated with a clinically isolated syndrome, a precursor to MS, as well as the occurrence of a second episode and higher incidence of relapse. Vitamin D, made in the skin, regulates the immune system and therefore can be extremely helpful in easily treating MS, a condition where the immune system attacks the covering that protects nerve fibers because it recognizes it as foreign to the body.
During the study, a team of researchers analyzed data of 291,599 blood samples from 164,000 people gathered in the northern part of Sweden since 1975. One hundred and ninety-two of these people developed MS, on average nine years after their blood sample was taken. In total, 37 blood samples were taken during pregnancy from mothers whose kids developed MS in the future.
The findings showed that women with high levels of vitamin D in their blood had a 61 % lower risk of developing MS than those who had low levels of vitamin D in their blood.
In total, only some had high levels of vitamin D. Just seven of 192 people who had MS, approximately four percent, also had high vitamin D levels, in contrast to 30 out of 384 controls, around 8 percent, who did not have the disease.
No link was seen between the mother’s vitamin D level and her offspring developing MS.
“Since we found no protective effect on the baby for women with higher levels of vitamin D in early pregnancy, our study suggests the protective effect may start in later pregnancy and beyond. Another interesting finding in our study was that the vitamin D levels became gradually lower with time from 1975 and onward. It is possible that this decline in vitamin D status is linked to the increasing numbers of MS cases seen worldwide.”
Salzer Jonathan, Hallmans Goeran, Nystroem, Maria, Stenlund Hans. 2012. Vitamin D as a protective factor in multiple sclerosis. American Academy of Neurology