Pregnancy, Vitamin D, & MS in the UK
Vitamin D3 has become a key part of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) treatment. MS is a disease more common in persons with low Vitamin D levels. MS sufferers treated with Vitamin D3 supplements maintain function longer. Now British researchers have confirmed evidence that MS is more common in those whose mothers had low Vitamin D levels while pregnant.
The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has published a meta-analysis of over 150,000 births in the UK looking for MS decades later. MS was significantly more common in individuals born in April and May, than in persons born in October and November. Looking at only those born further north increases the difference.
The UK researchers could not go back decades to check on maternal Vit D levels. However, we do know that natural Vitamin D levels vary substantially with season, increasingly so as you head north. Social, economic, or environmental factors other than presumtive Vitamin D levels could not be identified. The statistical analysis indicates a probability, well in excess of 99%, that lack of Vitamin D is the cause for increased MS.
The pregnancies analyzed occurred long before Vitamin D3 was widespread and cheap. Sunshine was the usual source of Vitamin D. Sunshine strong enough to make Vitamin D is absent in the UK in winter. It also is absent in much of the USA in winter, and year-round if enough sunblock is used to prevent skin cancer.
Jay Ginther, MD