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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 26;8(12):e85081. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085081. eCollection 2013.

The high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its related maternal factors in pregnant women in Beijing.

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Department of Pathology and Experimental Medicine, 306 Hospital of PLA, Beijing, P.R. China.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 306 Hospital of PLA, Beijing, P.R. China.
Department of Outpatient, 306 Hospital of PLA, Beijing, P.R. China.


Maternal vitamin D deficiency has been suggested to influence fetal and neonatal health. Little is known about vitamin D status in Chinese pregnant women. The purpose of this study was to assess the vitamin D status of pregnant women residing in Beijing in winter and evaluate the impact of maternal factors on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels. The study was conducted on 125 healthy pregnant women. For each individual, data concerning pre-pregnancy weight, educational status, use of multivitamins and behavioral factors such as daily duration of computer use, walking and sun exposure were obtained. Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D < 50 nmol/L) was 96.8% and almost half (44.8%) of women were severely vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D < 25 nmol/L). The concentration of 25(OH)D was lower in women with shorter duration of sun exposure (≤ 0.5 h/day, 25.3 ± 8.9 nmol/L) than that in women with longer duration of sun exposure (> 0.5 h/day; 30.3 ± 9.5 nmol/L; P = 0.003). Thirty six women (28.8%) had sun exposure duration ≥ 1.5h/day. The 25(OH)D concentration in these women was 31.5 ± 9.4 nmol/L which was also much lower than the normal level. Women who reported taking a multivitamin supplement had significantly higher 25(OH)D concentrations (32.3 ± 9.5 nmol/L) when compared with non-users (24.9 ± 8.2 nmol/L; P < 0.001). Pregnant women in Beijing are at very high risk of vitamin D deficiency in winter. Duration of Sun exposure and the use of multivitamin were the most important determinants for vitamin D status. However, neither prolonging the time of sunlight exposure nor multivitamin supplements can effectively prevent pregnant women from vitamin D deficiency. Other measures might have to be taken for pregnant women to improve their vitamin D status in winter.

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