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Vitamin D Deficiency is Epidemic Around the World

Vitamin D Deficiency is Epidemic Around the World

Story at-a-glance

  • A two-year-long community project implemented at the Medical University of South Carolina confirms 40 to 60 percent of preterm births are prevented by raising pregnant women’s vitamin D to a level of 40 ng/mL
  • Vitamin D optimization also reduces the mother’s risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and prenatal infections by approximately 50 percent
  • Children born of vitamin D-deficient mothers have higher risk of allergies and asthma, colds and flu, dental cavities, diabetes and autism, as well as a higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease in later life

By Dr. Mercola

Despite being simple and inexpensive to address, vitamin D deficiency is epidemic around the world. It's been estimated that if vitamin D levels were raised among the general population, it could prevent chronic diseases that claim nearly a million lives throughout the world each year. Raising vitamin D levels among pregnant women is of particular concern, as insufficiency affects both the mother and her developing child.

Protect Our Children NOW! is a Grassroots Health campaign launched in 2015 to combat vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women worldwide. Research by Grassroots Health shows 40 to 60 percent of preterm births could be prevented by raising pregnant women's vitamin D to a level of 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). This really seems to be the sweet spot, above which the risk for many complications and health problems dramatically decline.

Preterm birth is defined as a birth before 37 weeks' gestation. One of the reasons GrassrootsHealth created a field trial around pregnancy and preterm birth is because there's a clearly defined timeframe — babies either are or are not preterm, which makes the results unambiguous. Preterm birth is cited as the reason for 28 percent of newborn deaths during the first month of life.

Preterm babies are also more likely to suffer health problems later on, including a higher risk of ADHD, cerebral palsy, autism, asthma, intestinal problems, pneumonia, vision problems, hearing loss and dental problems. As of 2015, the U.S. had a preterm birth rate of 9.6 percent, meaning nearly 1 in 10 babies were born prematurely. The U.S., while one of the most advanced countries in the world, ranked No. 130 in preterm births out of 184 countries in 2010.

The Benefits of Optimizing Vitamin D During Pregnancy

Protect Our Children NOW! is a cost-effective, reproducible program that protects children by ensuring pregnant mothers are vitamin D sufficient. Aside from halving the risk for preterm birth, vitamin D optimization also reduces the mother's risk of preeclampsiagestational diabetes and prenatal infections by approximately 50 percent.1

Research also confirms there is a lifelong impact for children born of vitamin D-deficient mothers, ranging from childhood allergies and asthma to more frequent colds and flu, dental cavities, diabetes, autism and even strokes and cardiovascular disease in later life. All of these conditions can be reduced by optimizing vitamin D during pregnancy.2,3,4

According to the 2015 Save the Children report5 on the health of mothers around the world, the U.S. ranked worst among developed countries. American women face a 1 in 1,800 risk of dying during pregnancy, and are more than 10 times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than women in Belarus, Poland and Australia. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to change this abysmal track record.

  • August 09, 2017
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