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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Vitamin D 'makes stronger babies'

Giving pregnant women vitamin D could mean their babies grow stronger bones in later life, a study suggests.

A study of 198 mothers indicated the children of those who lacked the vitamin, crucial for calcium absorption, had weaker bones at nine.

Those who took supplements or were exposed to more sunlight, which helps the body grow its own vitamin D, had children with greater bone densities.

The research from Southampton General Hospital is published in the Lancet.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, who led the team, said the findings provided evidence that maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy influenced the bone growth of offspring and their risk of osteoporosis in later life.

He told the BBC News it was the vitamin deficiency of the mother carrying the child, rather than the baby in early life, which affected the child's bone strength later.

"This is completely new - no one has ever looked at the mother's vitamin D levels before."

Vitamin D is crucial for the absorption of calcium which is in itself key in the formation of healthy bones.

The team from the Medical Research Council's Epidemiological Resource Centre at Southampton General Hospital measured the levels of vitamin D in women's blood in late pregnancy as well as studying calcium levels in the babies' cord blood.


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