Study: Vitamin D during pregnancy may prevent childhood asthma

According to researchers, the majority of all asthma cases are diagnosed in early childhood, suggesting the condition originates in utero.
By Amy Wallace  |  May 26, 2017 at 11:14 AM
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May 26 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that taking vitamin D supplements in pregnancy may help protect against asthma and respiratory infections in childhood.

"The majority of all asthma cases are diagnosed in early childhood implying that the origin of the disease stems in fetal and early life," Catherine Hawrylowicz, a professor at King's College London, said in a press release.

"Studies to date that have investigated links between vitamin D and immunity in the baby have been observational. For the first time, we have shown that higher Vitamin D levels in pregnancy can effectively alter the immune response of the newborn baby, which could help to protect the child from developing asthma. Future studies should look at the long-term impact on the immunity of the infant."

A study by King's College London examined the effect of taking a supplement of 4,400 IU vitamin D3 a day during the second and third trimesters of pregnant women compared to the recommended daily intake, or RDI, of 400 IU per day on the immune systems of newborn babies.

Fifty one study participants were were randomized at 10 to 18 weeks of pregnancy and treated with high or low doses of vitamin D supplements.

Researchers analyzed the umbilical cord blood from the women to test the responsiveness of the infant's immune system and T lymphocyte responses.

The study showed blood samples of babies from mothers who were given the higher dose of vitamin D3 had boosted immune systems with greater innate cytokine and IL-17A production responses to T lymphocyte stimulation.

"Studies to date that have investigated links between vitamin D and immunity in the baby have been observational," Hawrylowicz said. "For the first time, we have shown that higher Vitamin D levels in pregnancy can effectively alter the immune response of the newborn baby, which could help to protect the child from developing asthma. Future studies should look at the long-term impact on the immunity of the infant."

The study was published in Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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