Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy Increases Risk of Childhood Dental Problems

by David Gutierrez

TORONTO(RushPRNews)12/11/08-Women who do not get enough vitamin D while pregnant place their children at increased risk for tooth enamel defects and early childhood tooth decay, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Manitoba, Canada, and presented at the General Session of the International Association for Dental Research in Toronto.

Researchers measured the vitamin D blood levels of 206 women in the second trimester of pregnancy. Only 10.5 percent had sufficient levels. Of 135 infants studied, 21.6 percent suffered from enamel defects, and 33.6 percent suffered from early childhood tooth decay.

While low maternal vitamin D levels were correlated with enamel defects, this correlation did not reach statistical significance. Insufficient maternal vitamin D was also correlated with higher levels of early childhood tooth decay, a relationship that was found to be statistically significant. The researchers also found that infants who had enamel defects were more likely to go on to have early childhood tooth decay than children with healthier enamel.

The study was funded by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the Dentistry Canada Fund, the Manitoba Institute of Child Health, the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation and the University of Manitoba. The researchers warned that because 90 percent of study participants were urban aboriginal women, caution should be used in generalizing the study’s results.

Vitamin D is naturally produced by the body upon exposure to sunlight. It is essential in helping the body absorb calcium, a critical component of healthy bones and teeth. Recent research has also suggested that the vitamin might play critical role in the health of the immune system, and may help prevent not only osteoporosis but also high blood pressure, cancer and certain autoimmune diseases.

The average light-skinned person can get enough vitamin D from 15 minutes of sun on the face and hands each day, while a darker-skinned person needs twice as much. This may not be sufficient for people living in extreme latitudes, however, especially during the winter.

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Article by NatureNews staff writer

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