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Vitamin D helps child language development

14th February 2012

Pregnant women who do not get enough vitamin D may end up negatively affecting their children's language development, according to a recent Australian study.


The finding will need to be confirmed by other studies, since it was based on a statistical analysis of pregnant women.

Further studies may also unearth the underlying mechanism responsible for the difference in language development.

Lead researcher Andrew Whitehouse, an associate professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Western Australia, said that adequate vitamin D levels among pregnant women may be important for the optimal development of children.

He said that it was important for any strong conclusions about the mechanism of the proposed link between vitamin D and language development to be replicated by another statistical study in another population, first.

For the study, the research team examined 700 pregnant women's levels of vitamin D, and measured the behaviour of the children those women had at six different ages.

The children's behaviour was measured at age two, five, eight, 14 and 17, and the assessment turned up nothing that would statistically differentiate children who got a lot of vitamin D in the womb from those who did not.

At age five and age 10, however, the researchers also conducted a language development survey.

This language development survey turned out to be scientifically revelant, though the finding still needs to be confirmed by other studies.

Whitehouse said that vitamin D levels among pregnant women had decreased steadily over the past two decades, primarily because people are less exposed to sunlight than they used to be.

The difference in language development seemed pronounced, making children whose mothers had the lowest level of vitamin D two times more likely to have language-related difficulies than women who got normal levels of vitamin D while pregnant.

Whitehouse said that the finding may point to a link between maternal vitamin D and offspring brain development, and that vitamin D supplements for pregnant women may be necessarry.

Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said she believed women should get their vitamin D levels checked.

She said that specialists wanted to help women correct these deficiencies, and that luckily, most pregnant women took a prenatal vitamin containing 1,200 international units (IU) of vitamin D.

Wu said that, even if women were still at the stage of trying to get pregnant, they should be taking their prenatal vitamins.

Michael Holick, a professor at Boston University School of Medicine, said that vitamin D deficiency tended to increase women's need for a caesarean delivery.

He said that lacking the vitamin also caused an adverse condition called pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, and that he would not be surprised if there were also a link between child developmental problems and vitamin D-deficient women.


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Ella Jackson

Sunday 19th February 2012 @ 2:06

This is so important for the health of our society and future of our children. Every piece of the baby brain and language development puzzle is crucial to parents understanding their role in encouraging children to talk early and in so doing, also maximise the development of brain cells and the ability to think.

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