Speech problems linked to Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th February 2012

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

The study is the largest study of its kind and 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.

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.”

It has been assumed for some time that dietary intake of vitamin D among Australians is of little concern because sun exposure ensured adequate cutaneous synthesis of the vitamin.

This assumption has been drawn into question by studies such as “Vitamin D in Australia- Issues and recommendations.” indicating that vitamin D status is low- assessed using serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D concentrations- in small volunteer samples of several Australian population groups such as the elderly, veiled women, as well as children and adolescents.


On the Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research

Whitehouse, A.J.O., Holt, B.J., Serralha, M., Holt, P.G., Kusel, M.M.H., Hart P.H. (in press). “Maternal serum vitamin D levels during pregnancy and offspring neurocognitive development.” Pediatrics.

On Vitamin D deficiency


Nowson CA, Diamond TH, Pasco JA, Mason RS, Sambrook PN, Eisman JA. Vitamin D in Australia. Issues and recommendations. Aust Fam Physician 2004;33:133-8.