(HealthDay News) – During pregnancy, higher maternal circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3) correlates with improved mental and psychomotor development in infants, according to a study published online Sept 17 in Pediatrics.

Eva Morales, MD, PhD, MPH, from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,820 mother-infant pairs to examine whether 25(OH)D3 concentration in pregnancy correlates with infant neuropsychological development. Women were recruited to a population-based cohort study during their first trimester of pregnancy. High-performance liquid chromatography was used to measure maternal plasma 25(OH)D3 concentration at a mean of 13.5±2.1 weeks of gestation. Using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, mental and psychomotor scores were assessed in the offspring at age 14 months.

The researchers identified a positive linear relationship between circulating concentrations of maternal 25(OH)D3 and mental and psychomotor scores in the offspring. Compared with infants of mothers with 25(OH)D3 concentrations of <20ng/mL, infants of mothers with 25(OH)D3 concentrations of >30ng/mL showed higher mental score (β=2.6) and higher psychomotor score (β=2.32), after adjustment for potential confounders.

“In this prospective cohort, higher circulating concentration of maternal 25(OH)D3 in pregnancy was associated with improved mental and psychomotor development in infants,” the authors write. “Efforts to maintain an adequate vitamin D status in pregnancy could make a positive impact on infants’ neuropsychological development if the associations are causal.”

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