Children of mothers who are vitamin D deficient while pregnant may be much more likely to develop multiple sclerosis as adults, according to new research.
Offspring of D-deficient mothers were 90 percent more likely to develop MS later in life in the Harvard School of Public Health study, which was published in JAMA Neurology.
Vitamin D’s role in MS has been debated. It’s been associated with a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis in adulthood, and it's been found to slow the progression of the disease in some studies. Other previous studies have suggested that in-utero vitamin D exposure may be a risk factor for MS later in life, according to a JAMA release. The authors of the new study point out that two previous studies had not found a link between early vitamin D levels and later MS.
One expert said that the findings need to be interpreted with caution. "We cannot say from this study that low vitamin D levels cause MS in women's offspring," Daniel Skupski, MD, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian/Queens hospital in New York City told U.S. News & World Report. All the study points to is an association between the two."
What the research does do, Skupski said, is "set the stage" for further research to see if getting more vitamin D in pregnancy might lower people's lifetime risk for multiple sclerosis.