Research from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southhampton, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, has specified that children are more likely to have a higher muscle mass if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D during pregnancy.
Prior studies have demonstrated that low vitamin D has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children but this is the first study to confirm the demonstrated impact of Vitamin D during pregnancy.
The study pool consisted for 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy. Children were tested at the age of four for grip strength and muscle mass. The research findings reflected that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced association between mother’s vitamin D and child’s muscle mass.
Lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the MRC LEU at the University of Southampton, stated: “These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures. It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age.”
Nicholas C. Harvey, Rebecca J. Moon, Avan Aihie Sayer, Georgia Ntani, Justin H. Davies, M. Kassim Javaid, Sian M. Robinson, Keith M. Godfrey, Hazel M. Inskip, Cyrus Cooper, and The Southampton Women’s Survey Study Group. Maternal Antenatal Vitamin D Status and Offspring Muscle Development: Findings From the Southampton Women’s Survey. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, January 2014