With funding from the BUPA Health Foundation, Deakin Medical School’s Associate Professor Julie Pasco is leading the study that builds on 2002 research that found poor bone growth in infants whose mothers had low vitamin D levels during pregnancy.
“We now have a unique opportunity to measure the growth and development of these children as they turn nine,” said Associate Professor Pasco, Head of Deakin’s Barwon Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit based at Barwon Health in Geelong.
“Whilst it is clear that severe vitamin D deficiency in mothers is associated with soft bones (rickets) in their offspring, more information is required about the effects of moderately low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy.
“As part of this study, we will measure body size, bone growth, muscle development and the amount of fat tissue in the children.”
Associate Professor Pasco said the study was poised to contribute new information to inform a growing policy debate regarding vitamin D supplementation recommendations during pregnancy.
“Osteoporosis is a major public health problem in Australia and its prevalence is set to escalate as the population ages. Therefore, having the highest possible peak bone mass in all young adults is a high priority public health goal,” she said.
“It is likely that optimising vitamin D levels in all pregnant women will improve peak bone mass in their offspring into adulthood.”
The study involves about 350 children from the Geelong region and will take three years to complete.
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