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Consuming more vitamin D during pregnancy can reduce risk of high blood pressure for infants, study finds

Researchers say the supplement could be particularly important for women with preeclampsia

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Recent studies have highlighted how low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy can affect newborns’ development. Now, a new study is exploring how the supplement can be effective in maintaining healthy blood pressure for infants. 

According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, vitamin D is an important supplement for women with preeclampsia because it has been found to promote better blood pressure for newborns through childhood. 

“There is increasing evidence that cardiovascular disease risk is, to a great extent, programmed in the womb, and we now see that it may be vitamin D that alters this programming in a beneficial fashion,” said researcher Noel Mueller, PhD. 

The benefits of vitamin D

To see how vitamin D could affect newborns’ blood pressure, the researchers analyzed data from Boston Medical Center, which included information on over 750 mothers and infants. The study included data on the mothers’ vitamin D levels during pregnancy, with the researchers regularly checking children’s blood pressure from the time they were three years old through the age of 18.  

The researchers kids were more likely to have high blood pressure when their mothers experienced preeclampsia during pregnancy. However, they also learned that vitamin D could be an effective way to reduce the risk of kids developing high blood pressure. 

Kids who received the highest levels of vitamin D maintained healthy blood pressure readings throughout childhood, regardless of what their mothers’ blood pressure status was during pregnancy. Conversely, those who received the lowest levels of vitamin D during pregnancy were more likely to have elevated blood pressure readings -- especially when their mothers struggled with preeclampsia. 

While consumers should always consult with their doctors before starting a new supplement regimen, these findings are important because they could lead to better health outcomes for kids. Moving forward, the researchers hope that more research is done in this area to better understand this link between maternal vitamin D levels and blood pressure. 

“If other epidemiological studies confirm these findings, then randomized trials would be needed to determine conclusively if higher vitamin D in mothers at risk of preeclampsia protects against childhood high blood pressure,” said Dr. Mueller. 

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