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MS risk for babies if mothers don't get enough sun

15th November 2012

Researchers have made a link between lack of sunshine in pregnancy and the risk of babies developing MS later in life.

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They say babies whose mothers get less exposure to sun during pregnancy are at higher risk and one cause may be a lack of vitamin D in pregnant women’s blood.

The team from Queen Mary University of London now want pregnant women to be given vitamin D supplements to cut cases of the disease.

The new study, the biggest of its kind, found the chances of developing multiple sclerosis are 5% higher among those born in April and May, compared to the average risk, and 5-10% lower for babies born during the months of October and November.

With nearly 100,000 people in the UK suffering from MS, previous research shows high levels of vitamin D in the body may protect against the disease.

Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan, of Queen Mary University of London and colleagues, said the study provided the most compelling evidence so far to justify telling women to take vitamin D supplements during pregnancy.

He said: “Around 90% of women are vitamin D deficient during the winter months which means pregnant women are especially at risk. Research has been pointing this was for years but this is the biggest study of its kind. It may only be a small effect but it is now proven.”

Oliver Gillie of the Health Research Forum, who campaigns for greater awareness of vitamin D benefits, said the Government needs to ensure local authorities take the findings on board.

 

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