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500th baby born to Southampton vitamin D pregnancy study

Published: 2 April 2012

A landmark Southampton study into the effects of maternal vitamin D supplementation on offspring bone development has seen the birth of its 500th baby.

The Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Study (MAVIDOS) is a clinical trial which aims to demonstrate whether supplementation of women with vitamin D (compared with placebo) throughout pregnancy will lead to improved bone development in the baby.

The study, headed by Dr Nicholas Harvey from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (LEU) at the University of Southampton, started in 2008 and forms part of a wider programme of research led by Professor Cyrus Cooper, Director of the MRC LEU, into how factors acting during pregnancy and early childhood might have a long-term influence on bone development. It is funded by Arthritis Research UK, Medical Research Council (MRC), the BUPA Foundation and National Institute for Health Research.

Rowen Hall was born at 2.54pm on Saturday 18th February and was the 500th baby born in the study. Born at Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton, Rowen weighed 8lbs 2oz. Parents Verity and Steve Hall were both delighted with their new arrival.

Previous work from the Southampton group has demonstrated that pregnant mothers who are poorly nourished, who smoke or have low vitamin D levels have offspring with reduced bone mass in childhood. The stronger a child’s bones are very early in life, the less likely they are to be at risk of osteoporosis and broken bones in older age.

Rowen Hall was the 500th baby born in the study
Vitamin D pregnancy study

Verity took a daily supplementation (either Vitamin D or a placebo) for the duration of her pregnancy after joining the study at her 12 week scan. When Rowen was born he had a DXA scan to assess his bone density. He will have a follow up scan when he is four years old.

Verity comments: “It is really important to take part in the study; we should be doing all we can for the future of our children. I wasn’t aware that there was a concern about the level of vitamin D and the link to the risk of broken bones in the future, but I was happy to take part. Rowen had his first DXA scan shortly after being born and his bones were strong. I am interested in what the future scans show.”

Low levels of vitamin D are common in the population; therefore MAVIDOS is likely to be of critical importance in helping to decide the optimal national strategy regarding vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy.

Dr Harvey says: “We are delighted with the excellent progress of the study and that the 500th baby, Rowen, has been born and is doing well. Recruitment is ongoing in Southampton and the results of this study are likely to have important implications for public health policy- we are really grateful that so many women in Southampton are prepared to give up their time to take part in this important work.”

Professor Cyrus Cooper, Professor of Rheumatology and Director of the MRC LEU, adds: “Osteoporosis in older people is a major public health problem because of associated fractures. MAVIDOS and other investigations underway at the MRC LEU will, we hope, pave the way for potential future strategies aimed at improving childhood bone strength and thus making them less at risk of osteoporosis and broken bones in later life.”

Watch a video of the MAVIDOS study here.

Notes for editors

The Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis Study (MAVIDOS) started in September 2008 and aims to recruit 954 women over three centres (Southampton, Sheffield and Oxford). Women are recruited at 12 weeks of pregnancy when they attend for the dating or nuchal translucency ultrasound scan. Women who agree to take part and have Vitamin D levels in the low-normal range, are randomised to either 1,000 units of Vitamin D daily or to a matched placebo tablet for the duration of pregnancy. Bone mass in the baby is assessed using a bone density (DXA) scanner. For more information visit http://www.mrc.soton.ac.uk/index.asp?page=284

 

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