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HomeWellnessWomen's HealthHow do genetics and vitamin D levels affect blood pressure in pregnancy?

How do genetics and vitamin D levels affect blood pressure in pregnancy?

A recent study examines the relationship between vitamin D levels in pregnant women and the risk for high blood pressure in pregnancy and pre-eclampsia.

Women often have low vitamin D levels during pregnancy. Some studies suggest that women with lower levels of vitamin D are at a higher risk for pre-eclampsia, a serious complication characterized by high blood pressure in pregnancy, among other symptoms.

A few recent studies indicated that vitamin D supplements may be beneficial during pregnancy, while others found no strong link between vitamin D supplementation and lower risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia.

Research by a team of British, Dutch, Norwegian, and American scientists aimed to determine if certain genetic variations cause lower vitamin D levels and have an effect on high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Their work was recently published in The BMJ.

Using data collected from two previous European pregnancy studies, the current work analyzed data from a total of 7,389 women. Information about vitamin D levels, gestational high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia were available for each participant. Additionally, data about genetic variants in four specific genes involved in vitamin D production were also collected.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found no strong evidence of vitamin D levels having an effect on high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Additional studies with a larger number of participants are needed.

Nonetheless, the U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily for pregnant women. Health councils in the UK, the Netherlands, and Norway recommend 400 IU of vitamin D daily.

Written by Cindi A. Hoover, Ph.D.

Reference: Magnus et al. Vitamin D and risk of pregnancy related hypertensive disorders: mendelian randomisation study. BMJ 2018; 361:k2167. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2167

Cindi Hoover PhD
Cindi Hoover PhD
Cindi has a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Delaware and a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary. Her research focused on the genetics and molecular biology of corals. Cindi gained scientific writing experience through her many years of work in genomics and molecular biology laboratories. She is excited to contribute to Medical News Bulletin and to help others learn about cutting-edge scientific research. In her free time, Cindi enjoys hanging out with her family, swimming, hiking, and photography.
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