In the new study, 'women who developed pre-eclampsia had vitamin D concentrations that were significantly lower early in pregnancy compared to women whose pregnancies were normal,' lead author Dr. Lisa M. Bodnar, from the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement. 'And even though vitamin D deficiency was common in both groups, the deficiency was more prevalent among those who went on to develop pre-eclampsia.'
Vitamin D has been shown to influence pathways involved in the development of pre-eclampsia, 'yet the vitamin D/pre-eclampsia relation has not been studied,' Bodnar's team notes in their report.
To investigate, they measured vitamin D levels in banked sera from 55 pregnant women who developed pre-eclampsia and from 219 who did not.
The average 25-hydroxyvitamin D level for women who developed pre-eclampsia was 45.4 nmol/L compared with 53.1 nmol/L in the control group -- a significant difference.
Moreover, the risk of pre-eclampsia rose with decreasing levels of vitamin D in early pregnancy, the authors found.
If the current findings are verified in other studies, the investigators suggest, 'Vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy should be explored as a safe and effective means of preventing pre-eclampsia and promoting neonatal well-being.'