London: Children are likely to have stronger muscles if their mothers had a higher level of vitamin D in their body during pregnancy, according to a new research.
Low vitamin D status has been linked to reduced muscle strength in adults and children, but little is known about how variation in a mother’s status during pregnancy affects her child.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southampton measured vitamin D levels in 678 mothers in the later stages of pregnancy.
When the children were four years old, grip strength and muscle mass were measured.
Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D in the mother, the higher the grip strength of the child, with an additional, but less pronounced association between mother’s vitamin D and child’s muscle mass.
“These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes including diabetes, falls and fractures,” said lead researcher Dr Nicholas Harvey, Senior Lecturer at the MRC LEU at the University of Southampton.
“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,” Harvey said.
The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.