Poor language skills linked to lack of Vitamin D in womb

16 February, 2012

New research from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found that children of mums who had low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy are twice as likely to have language difficulties.

The research, published in the latest edition of the international journal Pediatrics, is the largest study of its kind into the link between a mother’s vitamin D levels and the effect on her child’s speech and behavioural development.

The study looked at Vitamin D concentrations during the pregnancies of more than 740 women, with follow up investigations of their child’s development and behaviour at regular periods up to 17 years of age.

Lead author, Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse, said the finding was significant, given that Vitamin D levels among women are known to have decreased steadily over the past 20 years.

"The developing baby is completely reliant on the mother for its Vitamin D levels and what we have shown is that this might have an impact on the child’s brain development," Dr Whitehouse said.

"While these findings are tremendously exciting, they will need to be replicated by other research groups. More research is needed for us to fully understand the impact of Vitamin D levels on the developing brain."

Dr Whitehouse said the findings had significant implications in that it could provide an early intervention to prevent some language difficulties.

"We would now like to explore whether Vitamin D supplements in pregnancy could reduce the risk of language problems for children."

The study found no association between Vitamin D levels and childhood behaviour and emotional problems.

Source: Telethon Institute for Child Health Research