Sun Exposure: The key to a normal, healthy Pregnancy.

Sun Exposure: The key to a normal, healthy Pregnancy.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight Institute…

Sun exposure determines vitamin D levels. A recent study used pregnant Arab women as subjects and compared vitamin D deficiency to adverse outcomes. In the women studied, 48.4% were vitamin D deficient. The outcomes measured were gestational diabetes, anemia, iron deficiency, and preeclampsia.[1]

In D-deficient women, sun exposure and daily physical activity were considerably lower that those who were not deficient, and D deficiency predicted a higher risk of gestational diabetes, anemia, iron deficiency and preeclampsia when compared to women who did not experience the these disorders. The authors of the research stated, “The study findings revealed that maternal vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is significantly associated with elevated risk for GDM, anemia, and preeclampsia.”

Despite a predominately sunny environment, Mideast women are often covered with clothing that impedes contact with the sun’s rays, and they and their newborns consequently suffer from various maladies related to vitamin D deficiency,[2] and in Saudi Arabia, recommendations to increase sunlight exposure are being considered.[3]

This research is not the first to implicate lack of sun exposure to preeclampsia, a disorder in pregnant women that is characterized by edema (fluid accumulation), high blood pressure and excessive urine protein. Preeclampsia can progress to eclampsia, which can cause convulsions, coma and death.  The prevalence of preeclampsia is highest in winter and early spring,[4] indicating a sun deficiency. Another investigation found a dose-response relationship—the lower the D levels, the higher the risk of pre-eclampsia.[5] Vitamin D levels are a proxy for sun exposure, and with a decline of 20 ng/ml, there was a doubling of the risk. Additionally, newborn children of women at risk for pre-eclampsia were twice as likely as other children to be vitamin D-deficient. This is important, because vitamin D-deficient newborns are likely to develop rickets and suffer from convulsions.[6] Pregnant women, obviously, should be sun-seekers.

Women should safely seek the sun for their own health and that of their infants. Who would have thought?

[1] Bener A, Al-Hamaq AO, Saleh NM. Association between vitamin D insufficiency and adverse pregnancy outcome: global comparisons. Int J Women’s Health. 2013 Sep 4;5:523-31.

[2] Abbasian M, Chaman R, Amiri M, Ajami ME, Jafari-Koshki T, Rohani H, Taghavi-Shahri SM, Sadeghi E, Raei M. Vitamin D Deficiency in Pregnant Women and Their Neonates. Glob J Health Sci. 2016 Jan 4;8(9):54008.

[3] Al-Faris NA. High Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency among Pregnant Saudi Women. Nutrients. 2016 Feb 4;8(2):77.

[4] Morikawa M, Yamada T, Yamada T, Cho K, Sato S, Minakami H. Seasonal variation in the prevalence of pregnancy-induced hypertension in Japanese women. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2014 Apr;40(4):926-31.

[5] Bodnar LM, Catov JM, Simhan HN, Holick MF, Powers RW, Roberts JM. Maternal vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of preeclampsia.  J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007;92:3517-22.

[6] Camadoo L, Tibbott R, Isaza F. Maternal vitamin D deficiency associated with neonatal hypocalcaemic convulsions.  Nutr J 2007;6:23

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