Vitamin-D is not only an essential element in bone health, but it is also a pro-hormone. Deficiency of vitamin D is the most common cause of rickets and is also known to increase the risk of respiratory distress syndrome, lower respiratory infections, food sensitivities, asthma, type I diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. Vitamin D deficiency limits the effective absorption of dietary calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D status in newborns is entirely dependent on maternal supply during pregnancy. Low maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy is a major risk factor for rickets in infants. Rickets in children is caused by severe, chronic vitamin D deficiency with apparent skeletal abnormalities, but neonates with vitamin D insufficiency have no overt skeletal or calcium metabolism defects. Rickets was a global disease in the early twentieth century. It has nearly disappeared in developed countries after its causal pathway was understood and fortification of milk with the hormone vitamin D was introduced at the population level. Surprisingly, rickets is re-emerging per recent evidence. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in both developed and developing countries. The chapter will review the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and newborn population and its adverse effects on pregnancy and infant’s health. The chapter also describes evidence-based recommendations to prevent vitamin D deficiency in these vulnerable population.
Part of the book: Vitamin D