A study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Manitoba's dental school in Winnipeg and published in Pediatrics
has found that children whose mothers had low vitamin D levels during pregnancy have a higher risk of tooth decay.
As shown in previous studies, vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant mothers can lead to defects in their young children's tooth enamel, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. To determine whether low vitamin D levels during pregnancy also correlates with high cavity rates in toddlers, Dr. Robert J. Schroth and his team of researchers "measured vitamin D levels in the second or early third trimester in 207 pregnant women and then examined the teeth of 135 of their children when they were an average of 16 months old," Reuters Health
The researchers found that there was a direct relationship between low vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers and increased cavity occurrence in their toddlers. A third of the women in the study were vitamin D deficient; 22% of infants developed enamel hyploplasia, and 23 to 36% had cavities, depending on how cases are assessed.
"Prevention efforts should begin during pregnancy by bolstering maternal nutrition, either through improved dietary intake or supplementation with vitamin D," the researchers said, noting that improved nutrition can reduce the risk of childhood tooth decay.
William B. Grant from the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco, California, told Reuters Health
, "All pregnant and nursing women need to take 4000-5000 (International Units per day) vitamin D3. There are many benefits for pregnancy outcomes including reduced risk of gestational diabetes, respiratory and other infections, premature delivery, pre-eclampsia, adverse effects on the fetus such as birth defects including very possibly autism."
Besides nutritional supplements, there are other ways to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D, including soaking up the sun and eating foods like wild salmon, ahi tuna, mushrooms and eggs. One should also avoid sugar to prevent cavities. Reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake can also reduce one's need for vitamin D.