Pregnant women low on vitamin D more prone to vaginal infection

May 23rd, 2009 - 12:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 23 (IANS) Pregnant women with low vitamin D levels are more likely to suffer from a common vaginal infection that increases their risk for preterm delivery, according to a new study.
“Bacterial vaginosis (BV) affects nearly one in three reproductive-aged women, so there is great need to understand how it can be prevented,” said Lisa M. Bodnar, assistant professor of epidemiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, University of Pittsburgh (U-P).

“It is not only associated with a number of gynaecologic conditions, but also may contribute to premature delivery - the leading cause of neonatal mortality - making it of particular concern to pregnant women.”

The study, which included 469 pregnant women, sought to determine whether poor vitamin D status played a role in predisposing women to BV.

Bodnar and colleagues at Magee-Women’s Research Institute found that 41 percent of the participants had BV and of these, 93 percent had insufficient levels of vitamin D. They also found that the prevalence of BV decreased as vitamin D levels rose.

Vitamin D may play a role in BV by regulating the production and function of antimicrobial molecules, which in turn may help the immune system prevent and control bacterial infection, said an U-P release.

However, only about one in four Americans gets enough vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency may be more common in African-Americans because dark pigmentation limits the amount of vitamin D that can be made in the skin through casual exposure to sunlight.

“We don’t recommend pregnant women take mega-doses of vitamin D based on these findings, but they should talk with their doctor if they have concerns about their vitamin D status,” she said.

These findings are available online and slated for publication in the June issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

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