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Most women know that consuming ample amounts of milk or other calcium-rich foods during pregnancy is good for both mom's and baby's bones. But a second ingredient in the formula for strong bones--vitamin D--may be neglected. A new study shows that when a pregnant woman is deficient in vitamin D, her child's bone density later in life may be at risk.
British researchers gauged the body build, nutrition and vitamin D status of pregnant women who went on to give birth in 1991 and 1992. Nearly half either showed evidence of insufficient vitamin D or were flat-out deficient in the vitamin. Nine years later, the researchers examined the women's offspring and found that children whose moms were low in vitamin D during pregnancy had lower-than-normal bone mass.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in pregnant women, says Cyrus Cooper, D.M., the study's lead investigator. He notes that it's important to build high bone mass early in life to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later years. Women whose last trimester of pregnancy falls in the winter months, when sunlight is reduced and their production of vitamin D slows, may need to take supplements to protect their children's future bone health. The vitamin is found in fortified milk and cereals, fatty fish and eggs and is produced in the body by exposure to sunlight.