The study, published in the journal Endocrine Research, looked at health data from 678 mothers and babies born recently in the United Kingdom. Researchers from the University of Southhampton took blood samples from the mothers during their 34th week of pregnancy to determine maternal levels of vitamin D. This level was then compared with how tightly the children could squeeze a device in their hands at age four.
The result? Researchers found that women with the highest levels of vitamin D when they were pregnant were more likely to have children with greater muscle strength. But what does this mean for children?
"It is likely that the greater muscle strength observed at four years of age in children born to mothers with higher vitamin D levels will track into adulthood, and so potentially help to reduce the burden of illness associated with loss of muscle mass in old age," lead researcher Dr. Nicholas Harvey told the BBC.
Vitamin D is made by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. As sunscreen has become more ubiquitous, health experts have warned that vitamin D levels might be dangerously low for many Americans. But this research shows just how important the sunshine vitamin might be to a baby's growth and development.
Next up, researcher plan to give 1,200 expectant mothers higher doses of vitamin D supplements to evaluate the impact this might have on their baby's bone and muscle strength.
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