Pregnant women should avoid taking vitamin D supplements. Substitution appears to raise the risk of children developing a food allergy after birth. This was the conclusion drawn from a new survey carried out by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg in Germany which was published in the February issue of the medical journal Allergy.
Vitamin D has always had a good reputation: it strengthens bones, protects against infections particularly during the cold winter months and aids the nervous and muscular systems. Especially in the prevention and treatment of rickets, it has been given to babies and infants around the world for around 50 years. However, recent scientific investigations are increasingly questioning the positive aspect of the "bone vitamin". At the end of the 1990's, for the first time people's attention was drawn to a link between high vitamin D levels and the development of allergies.
To pursue the problem, together with Prof. Gabriele Stangl's group from the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at the Martin-Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, Dr. Kristin Weiβe from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig devoted herself to the following task: can it be proved that there is a correlation between the concentration of vitamin D in the blood of expectant mothers and in cord blood of the babies? The researchers from the UFZ in Leipzig were furthermore interested in the association between vitamin D levels during pregnancy and at birth, the immune status and allergic diseases of the children later in life. Or, in other words: does the vitamin D level of pregnant women affect the allergy risk of their children?