Can the amount of sunlight you get when you’re pregnant effect the health of your baby? It looks like the answer is yes.

Vitamin D is a vitamin we produce in our skin that effects the amount of calcium the body absorbs and is important of bone growth and development.

The primary status of vitamin D for the child during pregnancy and during breast feeding, is the mother’s vitamin D status. Poor vitamin D levels in children can lead to reduced growth, reduced long term bone density, important to prevent the development of osteoporosis later in life and in cases of severe deficiency a problem called rickets. This is when the bones begin to bow as the bony skeleton does not form properly and the bones do not harden the way they should.

Other extremely important implications of poor vitamin D status are in your child’s early stages of life. Normal vitamin D levels in the first year of life means an 80% reduction in the risk of developing type 1 diabetes and a 40% reduction in development of rheumatoid arthritis later in life, to name just two.

What do you do?

Firstly, make sure you when you’re pregnant and when you are breastfeeding, you and your child get some sunlight during the day. This does not mean staying outside all day, as you do not want to increase your risk of skin cancer, but just 10 minutes of an exposed arm or leg in sunlight between 10am and 3pm a day. Or, speak to your doctor about getting a blood test to check your vitamin D status and they can help you work out the best options to get your vitamin D status normal.

Written by Michael Dermansky, Senior Physiotherapist at MD Health

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