Vitamin D Action Needed Now to Protect Pregnancies and Babies
San Diego is to be the launch site for GrassrootsHealth ‘Protect Our Children NOW’ Vitamin D*action Program. Its goal is to cut the risk of preeclampsia, preterm labor, pregnancy related infections, gestational diabetes, and other comorbidities of pregnancy by up to 50%, potentially saving upwards of 2500 pregnant women in San Diego each year from suffering these dangerous conditions of pregnancy.
Encinitas -- updated July 17, 2012 -- “When a solution to as much as one half of the pain and anxiety of a troubled pregnancy is demonstrably safe and easy to obtain, it’s urgent to pull together all the resources we need to get action right now, without delay” says Carole Baggerly, director of GrassrootsHealth. Based on published research by Hollis & Wagner, an astonishing 82% of pregnant women were considered vitamin D deficient. It took 4000 IU/day of vitamin D to get women to the D*action recommended level of 40 ng/ml and, over the 6 year period of the study, supplementing at this level was shown to be safe.
Based on ongoing research discussed in a UCSD presentation "Vitamin D: Pregnancy and Lactation - Preventing Complications, Growing Healthy Babies" by Dr. Carol Wagner, MD, approximately 50% of the comorbidities of pregnancy from preeclampsia to preterm labor, infections, and gestational diabetes appear to be directly related to vitamin D deficiency. "When you lump all of these (comorbidities) together you find that, in the women who were on 4000 IU compared to 400, their risk of these comorbidities in pregnancy was half," states Dr. Wagner, a lead researcher, pediatrician, and neonatal-perinatal medical expert. In her research, she also found that the hormonal component of vitamin D during pregnancy was not optimized until the serum level was 40 ng/ml or higher. This hormonal level achieved is three times the level normally seen in non-pregnant women. Specifically, circulating levels of 25(OH)D of at least 100 nmol/L (40 ng/mL) were required to support maximum 1,25(OH)2D3 output in the pregnant women.
Getting a pregnant woman’s serum level to this measure is simple, safe and effective. The alarming fact that fully 10% of pregnancies nationwide are affected by such problems creates a sense of urgency among experts such as Dr. Wagner. “The incidence of these conditions is from 2 to 5 times higher with low prenatal vitamin D levels. I’m very excited to be part of the D*action Project to protect the mothers and children now!” Studies are also linking vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to a multitude of diseases in pregnancy and throughout life, including diabetes, allergies, asthma, dental caries, upper respiratory infections and even later life cancers. “Many of these long-term adult diseases are potentially affected by vitamin D levels during childhood, which increases the urgency to monitor and correct vitamin D serum levels, especially in babies and children,” says Dr. Wagner.
Approximately 5000 women a year in San Diego suffer from complications in pregnancy that can result in permanent health consequences for their children. The GrassrootsHealth ‘Protect Our Children NOW!’ D*action Program has a primary goal of making San Diego the recognized leader in healthy pregnancies. The program aims to fully demonstrate the health impacts of achieving and maintaining vitamin D serum levels of 40-60 ng/ml during pregnancy. All participants will have their vitamin D serum levels measured, and health outcomes will be tracked and carefully measured. Full scientific reports will be published for the community's action. “To fully affect community wide change, we must very thoroughly measure, document and publicize the findings so everyone can see what needs to be done,” says Carole Baggerly. “We could potentially eliminate 2500 cases of pregnancy complications or more per year for San Diego moms. With the help of local community groups, participants, and volunteers, we have the power to move current research findings forward quickly into a much healthier practice.”
“Many of the moms I speak to think that we don’t need to worry about our vitamin D levels here in San Diego,” says Jen Aliano, GrassrootsHealth Communications Director and San Diego mom. “Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.” Despite spending many hours a week outdoors with only moderate amounts of sun protection, Aliano and her family still tested at deficient levels. Aliano now wonders if the complications in her own pregnancy and with her son could have been avoided with proper screening and supplementation of vitamin D. “He tested deficient when he was only weeks old, which is a sure sign that I was also deficient when pregnant with him. It just makes me hope that other women, and the community in general, take advantage of the opportunity to do something about their D levels before it is too late; for their own heath and for their children.”
GrassrootsHealth is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose total mission is to solve the vitamin D deficiency epidemic. More information about GrassrootsHealth can be found at http://www.grassrootshealth.net/.