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 Childrens 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.
28 - 31 May 2016
European Society of Endocrinology