Mom's vitamin D intake cuts baby's diabetes risk

December 19, 2003 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements

Mom's vitamin D intake cuts baby's diabetes risk
A pregnant woman's intake of vitamin D from a regular diet � but not from supplements � protects her infant against developing the \"autoimmune\" form of diabetes. Insulin-dependent diabetes can occur when the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are knocked out by an abnormal immune attack against \"self\" tissues � an autoimmune reaction.

In a new study, researchers looked to see if maternal intake of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and omega-6 fatty acids during pregnancy affected the appearance of islet autoimmunity in offspring. They asked 233 mothers of children newly recruited to the Diabetes Autoimmunity Study in the Young (DAISY) to recall their food and nutritional supplement intake during pregnancy, using a standard food questionnaire.

The researchers then followed the children for a mean of 4 years for the appearance of autoantibodies directed against insulin or islet proteins. Sixteen children developed at least one type of autoantibody during follow-up. Analysis showed that high maternal intake of vitamin D through food was linked to a decreased risk of islet autoantibodies occurring in offspring. The group of mothers with affected children had an average daily vitamin D intake in food of 167.6 units, while the group with unaffected children had an average intake of 252.3 units.

The scientists did not find an association between vitamin D intake via supplements and islet autoantibodies, which is similar to observations in another epidemiological study. The reason for this discrepancy is not clear, but it could be due to differences in the way vitamin D is absorbed from food and supplements, or perhaps to the presence of an unidentified nutrient in vitamin D-containing foods.

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