Babies born with low levels of vitamin D may be more likely to develop multiple sclerosis in later life, according to newly-published research.
In Denmark, dried blood spots samples are taken during newborn screening tests and stored in a national biobank. Researchers identified everyone in Denmark who was born since April 30 1981, had onset of MS by 2012 and whose dried blood spots samples were included in the biobank. Vitamin D levels in the blood spots from these 521 people were compared to vitamin D levels in blood spots from 972 people who did not have MS.
Study participants were divided into five groups based on the vitamin D levels in the blood spots.
People with the lowest levels of vitamin D at birth were most likely to have developed MS in later life, while people with the highest levels at birth were least likely have to developed MS in later life.
The results provide further evidence to suggest that low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy may increase the risk of the child developing MS in later life. The researchers point out that the results do not show that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy will reduce that risk.
A number of studies have suggested a link between vitamin D and MS, but there is still no hard evidence that taking supplements to increase vitamin D levels will reduce the risk of getting MS or reduce the severity of MS. Some MS neurologists recommend that people with MS and family members supplement with 4000-5000 international units (IU) a day vitamin D (100-125 micrograms) but opinions vary widely as to whether this is appropriate.
Vitamin D is made in the skin by the action of sunlight and this is the main source of vitamin D for most people. New government guidelines recommend that everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should consider taking a daily supplement containing 400 IU (10mcg) of vitamin D.
- Neurology 2016 Nov 30. [Epub ahead of print] Summary Neonatal vitamin D status and risk of multiple sclerosis: a population-based case-control study