Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Vitamin D in pregnancy does not curb asthma in babies

Analysis of clinical studies finds no evidence to support the use of supplements for mothers-to-be.

Vitamin D supplements taken in pregnancy do not lower the risk of asthma or other respiratory conditions in children, an examination of research shows.

The results from a sweeping analysis of clinical trials on the use of vitamin D supplements by pregnant women contradicts previous studies based on observations of supplement use.

Previous studies had indicated supplements taken by expectant mothers could decrease the risk of asthma or wheezing in children.

Outcomes from the latest analysis shed light on factors that influence the risk of asthma, the most common disease in children.

Further studies should examine the possible benefits of supplements taken during early pregnancy, as well as post-natal supplements for mother and baby, the team behind the research suggests.

Review and analysis

Vitamin D in pregnancy may not benefit babies.
Vitamin D in pregnancy may not benefit babies' respiratory health.

A team of researchers, including from the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security (GAAFS), reviewed previous studies of vitamin D supplementation and pooled evidence from a series of clinical trials involving almost 3,000 pregnant women.

Their statistical analysis found no strong link between vitamin D intake or status during pregnancy and the likelihood of asthma in babies.

Their findings follow studies suggesting that vitamin D in pregnancy might support the immune system and prevent asthmatic symptoms in children.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to decreased lung function in asthmatic children and high doses may prevent asthmatic attacks. Supplements for children are recommended by the World Health Organization and other institutions.

The study, published in World Allergy Organization Journal, was carried out by a collaboration involving Jimma and Dilla Universities in Ethiopia and GAAFS.

Vitamin D is a key nutrient during pregnancy and early life. Understanding how best to supplement natural sources, such as breast milk, would support optimum healthcare for mothers and their babies. Future research might look beyond the scope of studies to date, by considering the possible benefits of supplements in early pregnancy and in the first six months following birth.

Dr Taddese ZerfuGlobal Academy of Agriculture and Food Security

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