Vitamin D and Folate Influence Pregnancy

Vitamin D and Folate Influence Pregnancy

Since a mother-to-be’s health directly correlates with the potential health of her future child, it’s important to start taking care of her body now, even if she is years from having a baby. In these studies, important nutrients like Vitamin D and Folate prove helpful once again when it comes to making healthy kids.

Read on and discover that even future-dad’s health and nutrient efficiency may contribute to how well a baby grows into that bundle of joy. Plus, a promising study on ECGC and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Mothers’ vitamin D boosted kids’ bone density

In this study, doctors gave a 2,800 IU high dose or 400 IU low dose of vitamin D per day to 517 expectant mothers from 24 weeks pregnant through one week after birth.

At age six, children whose mothers had taken high-dose vitamin D had greater whole-body bone mineral content, and head-bone (skull) mineral density compared to kids whose moms had the low dose. Children with rickets, a result of vitamin D deficiency, may have thinning or soft skull bones.

Kids whose moms had vitamin D levels below 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood, or 75 nanomoles per liter, and children born in winter, saw the greatest benefit from high-dose vitamin D. Also, there was a tendency for fewer bone fractures in children from high-dose vitamin D mothers.

Reference: JAMA Pediatrics; 2020, Vol. 174, No. 5, 1-9

Mom’s low vitamin D linked to kid’s ADHD

This is the first population-level study demonstrating a link between low maternal vitamin D levels and increased chances for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in their children. Doctors measured vitamin D levels in 1,067 mothers whose kids were born between 1998 and 1999, and compared to 1,067 children whose mothers did not participate.

Overall, children from mothers deficient in vitamin D during pregnancy were 34 percent more likely to develop ADHD compared to children whose mothers had sufficient vitamin D levels. In the U.S., 42 percent of the population is deficient in vitamin D, with higher percentages in premenopausal women, those with poor nutrition, and those over age 65.

Reference: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; December, 2019, Published Online

Vitamin D improves infant body composition

Good levels of stored vitamin D increase lean body mass in healthy infants. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 118 healthy-weight newborn boys and girls, a day-and-a-half after full-term birth. There were no significant differences at birth in lean or fat body mass, or in weight or length.

Infants with low vitamin D levels—below 50 nanomoles per liter of blood (nmol/L)—got 400 or 1,000 IU of vitamin D per day until six months. Those above 50 nmol/L got 400 IU vitamin D per day. At six months, infants in the 1,000 IU vitamin D group had higher vitamin D levels and significantly more lean body mass than either 400 IU groups.

Reference: American Society for Nutrition; #Nutrition2019, Poster Board 301

Mothers’ folic acid improves child cognition

In this follow-up to a study of seven-year-olds we reported previously, boys and girls whose mothers took folic acid during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, compared to those whose moms took a placebo, by age 11, scored higher on cognitive processing speed tests, and 11-year-old girls scored higher on tests of verbal comprehension.

The study included healthy pregnant women, aged 18 to 35, with a single-child pregnancy, who had taken 400 mcg of folic acid in the first trimester and continued to take folic acid, or a placebo, until the end of pregnancy.

The original reason for the study was to find benefits beyond taking folic acid in the first trimester to prevent neural tube birth defects. Doctors explained, “Emerging evidence shows the period of rapid growth of the fetal brain later in pregnancy is particularly sensitive to maternal folate concentrations. Our follow-up study proves folic acid supports the developing myelin sheathing that protects nerve fibers and facilitates neural communication.”

Reference: BMC Medicine; 2021, Article No. 73, Published Online

Fathers’ folate increases length of gestation

While most research on pregnancy focuses on mothers, fathers’ health and lifestyle also play an important role. In this study, doctors followed 108 couples undergoing fertility treatments, measuring paternal and maternal folate before conception. Over a 10-year period there were 113 pregnancies.

Overall, each 400 mcg increase in fathers’ daily folate led to 2.6 days longer gestation. It did not matter whether the men got folate from food or from supplements, and mothers’ folate levels did not affect gestational days.

Discussing the findings, doctors said, “The implications of these findings are of great importance since, if confirmed, they suggest that preconception exposures of the father, including his diet and lifestyle choices, may have an impact on the health of his offspring,” and that preconception care should take a couples approach.

Reference: Reproductive Biomedicine Online; 2019, S1472-6483, Published Online

EGCG reduces pathogenic bacteria in ASD

Those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation that may be linked to an imbalance in the microbiome. In this large review of epigallocatechin-gallate (EGCG) studies, doctors concluded EGCG inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria like clostridium perfringens, which has a link to behavioral disorders and psychological distress.

In addition, EGCG increases two beneficial gut bacteria: bifidobacterium spp and Akkermansia spp. These two bacteria metabolically help maintain the integrity of epithelial tissue lining vessels and organs, with nerve-protecting effects on the brain. Discussing the findings, doctors said the results make EGCG a “highly promising complementary treatment in ASD.”

Reference: Nutrients; 2023, Vol. 15, No. 14, nu15143265

BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, take prescription or over-the-counter medications, or are planning on having surgery. Look for supplements that are made for your child’s age group and consult your healthcare provider before starting supplements for your child to avoid contraindications, potential overdose, etc.

Article copyright 2024 by Insights for Well Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Photo by Jonathan Borba:

Back to blog