(HealthDay News) – Maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy is linked to subsequent language impairment in offspring, according to a study published Feb. 13 in Pediatrics.

To investigate the association between maternal serum 25(OH)-vitamin D concentration and offspring outcomes, Andrew J.O. Whitehouse, PhD, from the University of Western Australia in Subiaco, and colleagues assessed serum 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations of 743 Caucasian women in Perth, Western Australia, at 18 weeks of pregnancy. Measurements were grouped into quartiles. Offspring behavior was assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist at ages 2, 5, 8, 10, 14, and 17 years. Receptive language was measured using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised at ages 5 (534 children) and 10 years (474 children).

The researchers found that there were no significant associations between maternal 25(OH)-vitamin D serum quartiles and behavioral or emotional problems in offspring at any age. Significant linear trends were seen between quartiles of maternal vitamin D levels and language impairment at age 5 and 10 years. Multivariate analyses showed that women with vitamin D insufficiency (≤46 nmol/L) during pregnancy had nearly a two-fold increase in the risk of having a child with clinically significant language difficulties, compared with women with vitamin D levels >70 nmol/L.

“Maternal vitamin D insufficiency during pregnancy is significantly associated with offspring language impairment,” write the authors.

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