ISSN 1470-3947 (print) | ISSN 1479-6848 (online)

Endocrine Abstracts (2016) 41 EP136 | DOI: 10.1530/endoabs.41.EP136

Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy associates with increased emotional and behavioral problems at preschool age: the Rhea pregnancy cohort, Crete, Greece

Vasiliki Daraki1,2, Theano Roumeliotaki1, Georgia Chalkiadaki1, Andrew Margioris3, Katerina Koutra1, Marianna Katrinaki3, Andriani Kyriklaki1, Mariza Kampouri1, Stathis Papavasiliou2, Manolis Kogevinas4 & Leda Chatzi1


1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Social Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece; 2Department of Endocrinology Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, University Hospital of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece; 3Lab of Clinical Chemistry-Biochemistry, Department of Laboratory Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece; 4National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece.


Background and aims: Vitamin D deficiency during the perinatal period has been hypothesized to increase risk for several psychiatric disorders in humans. As newborn vitamin D levels are entirely dependent on maternal vitamin D status, vitamin D deficiency in utero may leave the infant vulnerable to cognitive defects and behavioral problems. Few human studies have examined these associations with inconclusive results. We aimed to investigate the associations of maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH) D] levels with offspring neurodevelopment at 4 years of age, using data from a longitudinal, prospective pregnancy cohort, ‘Rhea’ study in Crete, Greece.

Design and methods: We included 471 mother-child pairs. Maternal vitamin D status was estimated by measuring plasma concentration of 25(OH) D at the first prenatal visit (13±2.4 weeks). Cognitive function at 4 years was assessed by means of the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities (MSCA). Emotional and behavioral development at 4 years was assessed by means of Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Test. Multivariable linear regression analyses were used to estimate the effect of maternal vitamin D status on child neurodevelopment.

Results: Maternal vitamin D deficiency during early pregnancy was associated with a significant score increase in total SDQ (b-coef: 2.07, 95%CI: 0.25, 3.89) scale and specifically in peer relationship problems (b-coef: 0.58, 95%CI: 0.03, 1.12) and hyperactivity/inattention (b-coef: 1.15, 95%CI: 0.36, 1.94) subscales at 4 years of age. Similarly maternal vitamin D deficiency was associated with five points increase in the total ADHD score (b-coef: 5.36, 95%CI: 0.75, 9.98), and two points increase in the hyperactivity subscale score (b-coef: 2.26, 95%CI: 0.25, 4.26) at 4 years of age. Maternal thyroid function in pregnancy or maternal obesity did not modify the observed associations.

Conclusion: Vitamin D deficiency in early pregnancy was associated with increased emotional and behavioral problems at preschool age.