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Int J Eat Disord. 2013 Nov;46(7):669-76. doi: 10.1002/eat.22147. Epub 2013 Jun 26.

Maternal vitamin D levels during pregnancy and offspring eating disorder risk in adolescence.

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  • 1Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, West Perth, Western Australia; School of Psychology, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia.



To determine if maternal vitamin D concentrations at 18 weeks gestation predict offspring eating disorder risk in adolescence.


Participants were 526 Caucasian mother-child dyads from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. The Raine Study has followed participants from 18 weeks gestation to 20 years of age. Maternal serum 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations were measured at 18 weeks pregnancy and grouped into quartiles. Offspring eating disorder symptoms were assessed at ages 14, 17 and 20 years. Core analyses were limited to female offspring (n = 308).


Maternal 25(OH)-vitamin D quartiles were a significant predictor of eating disorder risk in female offspring, in multivariate logistic regression models. Vitamin D in the lowest quartile was associated with a 1.8-fold increase in eating disorder risk relative to concentrations in the highest quartile. This association also accounted for the relationship between offspring season of birth and eating disorder risk. Results were significant after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, body mass index and depressive symptoms.


This is the first study to link low gestational vitamin D to increased eating disorder risk in female offspring of Caucasian mothers. Research is needed to extend these findings and to consider how gestational vitamin D may relate to the pathogenesis of eating disorders.


eating disorders; epidemiology; vitamin D

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