I remember lying awake night after night watching my 8-week old breathe. When her tiny chest rose and fell, her lungs rattled. She was diagnosed with a lung infection called RSV. As a first-time mom, it terrified me.
In the U.S., more than 100 thousand children are hospitalized with RSV every year. About 500 of them die. But a new study in the June edition of Pediatrics indicates that taking vitamin D during pregnancy could prevent some babies from ever getting RSV.
Dr. Kristen Wootton is a mother, OB/GYN and contributor to The Living Womb. In this interview, Dr. Wootton provides some insight into the new study.
Carey: How does vitamin D during pregnancy protect babies from getting RSV after they are born?
Dr. Wootton: Vitamin D appears to boost immunity and therefore improve your ability to fight off infections including RSV.
Carey: I know vitamin D builds up in your body when you are exposed to sunlight. Is that enough, should pregnant women try to get it naturally from food or should a pregnant woman take additional Vitamin D supplements?
Dr. Wootton: The recommended daily intake of vitamin D in pregnancy is 600 iu. Most prenatal vitamins have 400. The other 200 would come from milk, juice and of course sun exposure. If you are getting 600 iu, I don’t recommend additional dosage. (for more information about vitamin D click here: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/)
Carey: Is too much vitamin D ever dangerous for the mother or baby?
Dr. Wootton: Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and can be toxic in high doses. Therefore, both pregnant women and newborns/infants receiving supplementation should be aware of their doses.
Carey: How successful is taking vitamin D in preventing RSV?
Dr. Wootton: We don’t know the success of vitamin D in preventing RSV as there are yet to be any randomized control trials. The study referenced is just a start. It has the flaw of having very low numbers (only 156 babies were tested) to prove cause and effect.. It does encourage further investigation.
Researchers are still trying to determine exactly why vitamin D levels effect the RSV rate. So the bottom line is: Take your prenatal vitamins. Check to see if they contain at least 400 iu’s of vitamin D. Get the rest natually.
If you have any concerns about your vitamin D levels, talk with your health care provider.
For more information on this study click here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/742315
To see a story from an NBC affliliate click here: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=15490128