More D, less epidurals?

New research suggests a low vitamin D level may result in more pain during labor for pregnant women.

Women with low levels of vitamin D experience more pain when giving birth, according to a new study recently presented at the Anesthesiology 2014, the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. The research was noted on

“Women often experience lower than normal levels of vitamin D during pregnancy,” said Andrew W. Geller, M.D., physician anesthesiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and senior author of the study in a release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. “We found that patients with low levels of vitamin D experienced an increase in pain during childbirth.”

For the study, researchers measured the vitamin D levels of 93 pregnant women before they went into labor. All of the subjects asked for an epidural for pain. During their labor, researchers measured how much pain medication each women required. They compared the quantity of pain meds used by the women with higher vitamin D levels to the quantity used with low vitamin D levels and found that the women with low levels of the vitamin consumed more pain medication than patients with higher levels.

“Given the research results, prevention and treatment of low vitamin D levels in pregnant women may have a significant impact on decreasing labor pain in millions of women every year,” said Geller. “This topic needs to be revisited and additional research should be conducted to determine how we can improve the labor experience for women everywhere.”

A woman’s vitamin D level may also be critical to her chances of becoming pregnant, if she’s trying to do so through in vitro fertilization. A study released this summer suggested that women with a vitamin D deficiency were nearly half as likely to conceive through in vitro fertilization as women who had sufficient levels of the vitamin, according to ressearch published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

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