Lack of vitamin D linked to birth of underweight babies

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PREGNANT women who do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight or their diet could give birth to underweight babies, ­according to research.

Small babies are at five to ten times greater risk of death in their first month and have a higher risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes, later in life.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health discovered that mothers with levels of vitamin D of less than 0.015 parts per million their blood in their first 26 weeks of pregnancy gave birth to babies weighing on average 46 grams less than their peers.

Lead author Dr Alison Gernand, of the university’s department of epidemiology, said: “A mother’s vitamin D level early in pregnancy may impact the growth of her baby later in ­pregnancy.”