Monday, January 11, 2010

Pregnancy in Winter Months Increases Risk of Newborn Neurological Problems

Sunlight is important for our health. In these days when people are afraid of skin cancer and smother on sunscreen, Vitamin D absorption has been reduced. Vitamin D is also vital to infant development, and new research suggests that mothers who are pregnant during winter months have an increased risk of delivering babies with neurological issues. Of particular concern is the increase in babies with multiple sclerosis (MS) born in April.

According to research published in the European Journal of Neurology, lack of vitamin D in pregnancy "predisposes" individuals to MS. The Telegraph reports:

Vitamin D, which is largely gained through sunlight and food, is known to regulate a gene that can predispose individuals to MS. If the gene is passed on to the unborn child, without being regulated by a sufficient amount of vitamin D, it could “hard wire” them to develop the disease in later life…

Professor George Ebers, from Oxford University’s department of clinical neurology at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said: “The difference [in developing MS in Scotland] between being born in April versus November is an astounding 50per cent. This is real, there’s no doubt of a seasonal link. There are different theories, but I think the April excess of births could be linked to a sunlight deficiency.

Should parents living in climates that lack winter sun try to conceive at times to avoid winter pregnancies? Researchers believe this may be prudent if there is a family history of neurological disorders, such as MS, but most women can simply take a vitamin D supplement.

Vitamin D has also been shown to be important in preventing the flu.

Source