Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

Vitamin D during pregnancy could prevent RSV in infants

by heather

 This week a study was published online from the American Academy of Pediatrics that found that a deficiency of Vitamin D in cord blood is associated increased rate of RSV in infants. So it stands to reason that if an infant is not starting out Vitamin D deficient, they are decreasing their chances of catching RSV. The study suggested that if pregnant women increased their Vitamin D intake, it would decrease the rate of RSV by about 20%. That is AMAZING! And not only would it decrease the number of cases of RSV, it would decrease the severity, meaning fewer deaths, fewer tiny babies on CPAP and vents, and fewer infants being held down by nurses like me so they can have boogers sucked out through a tube in their noses. I may be jeopardizing my job security by proclaiming this information to the world, but I’m OK with that. But seriously RSV is a HUGE part of what I do and I would be glad to see fewer kids come down with it.
 The point is, if you are pregnant I recommend that you make sure that you are getting enough Vitamin D. Start today.  Not only does it reduce rates of RSV, your body needs it for cardiovascular health, a thriving immune system and strong bones. One may ask how much is enough Vitamin D and where do I get it?- The latest recommendations (as of November 2010)  for daily intake is the same for men and women under age 70, 600 international units, and 400 IU for children. Now there is debate that because of these new study findings, perhaps pregnant women should get more than that. It remains to be seen. The caveat with Vitamin D is that if you take too much it can lead to toxicity. (Vitamin D poisoning can lead to dehydration, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, muscle weakness, irritability, fatigue and kidney stones. Pregnant women have enough issues with those conditions without taking a vitamin supplement that would make them worse.) Vitamin D toxicity is actually pretty rare. It only happens when too much is taken over a period of time, usually months, and when an adult is taking 50,000 IU or more per day. Vitamin D from food has never resulted in an overdose.

  Of course you can get your Vitamin D from a prenatal vitamin or a Vit D supplement, but if you are looking for an answer that doesn’t come in a pill form, here are a few good places:

  • sunshine- not that the sun actually contains Vit D, but our skin has the power to turn ultraviolet light (UVB rays) into Vitamin D. (Aren’t our bodies amazing?)
  • fish- especially fatty varieties like catfish, salmon and tuna
  • eggs
  • fish liver oils- I suppose this proves that my grandma was right, or at least partly. Eating a tablespoon of cod liver oil a day can prevent illness. One tablespoon contains 1360 IU. That doesn’t mean you can convince me to take it. It smells ghastly.
  • mushrooms- I recently learned that a serving of button mushrooms contains 100% of the Vitamin D that you need for a day.
  • In the United States milk is fortified with Vitamins A&D, because they help with the absorption of calcium. (Many people find it surprising that “Vitamin D milk” or whole milk has no more vitamins than skim or 2% milk. The only thing that it has more of is saturated fat.)
  • Most cereals, butter and dairy products are also fortified with Vitamin D.

 Now I’m asking you to do me a favor. If know someone who is pregnant, share this information with them. Making sure that you’re getting enough Vitamin D  while you’re pregnant is a simple way to make a huge difference. If 20% fewer children in the United States came down with RSV each year, that’s roughly a million children. And think how many families that would effect if there were that many children who weren’t coming down with RSV. The thought makes me happy. So please, please, if you are reading this, spread the good news to your friends and family so they can keep their families happy and healthy.

    6 Responses to “Vitamin D during pregnancy could prevent RSV in infants”

    1. Camille says:

      One of the Trauma P.A.'s that I work with (used to work with, whatever) said that he was going to rent a billboard on the side of the freeway that said "Thanks for speeding and not wearing your seat belt. I appreciate the job security." It was kinda funny, and when you said RSV is job security it reminded me of that billboard joke. :)

    2. Heather says:

      So true!

    3. Cara says:

      Hahaha! Camille, that's kind of funny. He should get a job in advertising ;).

      Thanks for this post, I haven't looked over the study itself but this was definitely something I will take into consideration.

    4. Hilary says:

      Wow, that would be amazing! I always take calcium with vitamin D when I'm pregnant….

    5. Morgan -Ing says:

      So, once a mom gets enough vitamin d, I bet (this is a total inference on my part) if OBs would DELAY cord-cutting after birth in order for babies to GET all that good cord blood, we'd see a drop in the RSV cases as well.

    6. Heather says:

      I don't think that delaying cord cutting would really help that much. The cord blood is just a good way to infer the nutritional status of the infant without additional tests. For example when an infant is born, to test its blood type, they check the cord blood instead of poking the baby. Studies have shown that delaying cord clamping increases an infant's risk for developing jaundice.
      And Vitamin D is not a one time deal, the mom has to consistently get enough throughout her pregnancy to help her baby build a strong immune system.

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