Expectant moms, are you getting enough sun? A recent worrisome piece in the Times indicates that low levels of vitamin D in pregnant women are closely associated with cavities in babies. Vitamin D, because it is often associated with sun exposure, isn’t as typical as other vitamins in the sense that it’s not considered an essential dietary supplement since it’s not often consumed orally. Yet this latest study, albeit with its shortcomings and inconclusiveness, suggests there may be a need for pregnant women especially to begin monitoring–or upping–their intake however they can.
According to Wikipedia, “a substance is only classified as an essential vitamin when it cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism, and must be obtained from its diet;” thus, because mammals can derive vitamin D by normal sun exposure, D remains in a different category. The study’s curious findings, nonetheless, ought to raise at least a small flag among expectant women who spend a lot of time indoors during difficult pregnancies, for example.
Scientists performing the study looked at 134 subjects. The women, with an average age of 19, gave blood samples which were measured to detect vitamin D levels. When the children were about a year old, they had dental examinations which revealed that “22 percent of the infants had deficient or thinning enamel and 23 percent had cavities.” It was determined from the mothers’ blood samples that approximately 45 of the women had low levels of vitamin D. The study, published in Pediatrics, is not without its flaws. For one, the randomized trial only studied economically disadvantaged women; furthermore, the scientists did not control for other factors possibly at play in the babies’ early tooth decay.
Yet, all things considered, the findings point to an even greater need in educating women on prenatal health care in all areas. Admittedly, there’s a lot of information for pregnant women to digest. From the controversy surrounding drinking small quantities of wine while pregnant, to what foods you should and should not eat, to the dos and dont’s of exercising while expecting, there is quite a bit to consider and probably plenty to take with a grain of salt, too.