Pregnancy

Study: Babies conceived between January and March more likely to have learning disabilities

Researchers in the U.K. have discovered a link between vitamin D during pregnancy and learning disabilities.

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Along with folic acid, vitamin D is essential during pregnancy to help with your baby’s development. And a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reveals that your vitamin D intake in the first trimester is especially important.

Researchers at the Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge, the National Health Service and the Scottish Government discovered that babies who were conceived between January and March (and born between October and December) were more likely to have learning disabilities, like ADHD, dyslexia and other reading problems, because their mothers didn’t get enough vitamin D during their first trimester. They concluded that indoor lifestyles during the winter (and the lack of sunshine that comes with that) and not taking the recommended dose of vitamin D led to the deficiency.

The study was conducted on 801,592 kids who attended Scottish schools between 2006 and 2011. It found that 8.9 per cent of children conceived between January and March had learning disabilities, compared to 7.6 per cent of babies conceived between July and September. Researchers concluded that 11 per cent of learning disabilities could have been prevented if mothers took the recommended dose of vitamin D.

It’s recommended that all women—pregnant or not—should be getting 600 IU of vitamin D daily, something that can be very difficult to do in Canada with our bitterly cold winters when sunshine is scarce. In fact, two-thirds of Canadians aren’t getting enough vitamin D.

So what can you do if you get pregnant between January and March? Don’t worry, you don’t need to spend more time outside in the freezing cold. Instead, all pregnant women should make sure they’re taking a daily prenatal vitamin, which includes the recommended amount of vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from some foods like milk and salmon, though nausea during pregnancy can sometimes make these foods less appealing. Since vitamin D is so essential during the first trimester, make sure you begin taking your prenatal as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Or, better yet, if you’re trying to get pregnant, start taking a daily multivitamin with vitamin D.

Read more:
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Pregnant women: Do not stop taking folic acid