The lack of vitamin D during early pregnancy can almost double the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) in children later in life, a recent study showed. It was determined that the children of mothers deficient in the sunshine nutrient, in the study, were 90 percent more likely to develop MS.
Previous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to an increased risk of MS over time, and some have suggested that supplements could lower the risk, but researchers said their study was the first to show prenatal vitamin D exposure can affect adults later in life, as reported by UPI.
The team from Harvard University also noted that their findings did not show whether increasing vitamin D levels could actually lower the risk of MS in children, even though other studies did consider it a possibility.
The only conclusive proof that the results from the Harvard team showed is that correcting vitamin D deficiency in early pregnancy may have a beneficial effect on risk of MS in the offspring.
For the study, researchers recruited 193 people diagnosed with MS before December 2009, whose mothers were in the Finnish Maternity Cohort and had an available serum sample from the pregnancy with the affected child, according to the findings published in JAMA Neurology.
The importance of the timing of the deficiency in early life
Although other studies have explored the link between vitamin D levels and MS, this particular one indicates the importance of the timing of deficiency in early life, according to a comment made to the study by Dr. Benjamin Greenberg, a researcher at the University of Texas Southwestern who was not involved in the study.
“The timing of vitamin D deficiency has been suggested as a critical covariate to its effect on the risk of developing MS,” Greenberg said. “The potential correlation between in utero vitamin D deficiency and MS would have both basic science and clinical implication,” he added.
MS can affect the brain and spinal cord, along with the optic nerves in the patient’s eye. It can cause problems with vision that could lead to blindness, troubles in balance, muscle control and other basic body functions, according to WebMD.
Symptoms of early MS include weakness, tingling, numbness and blurred vision but each patient could have a different pathology. Other signs could be muscle stiffness, thinking and urinary problems. Its treatment can relieve its symptoms and delay progression.