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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


VELAPHI, S C; IZU, A; MADHI, S A  and  PETTIFOR, J M. Maternal and neonatal vitamin D status at birth in black South Africans. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.10, pp.807-813. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) in pregnant women has been associated with adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels are affected by numerous factors, including vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, latitude and season of the year; they therefore vary by race and country. Vitamin D status in pregnant women and their offspring in South Africa (SA) is not well established. OBJECTIVES. To assess vitamin D status by measuring serum 25(OH)D in pregnant black SA women and their offspring in Johannesburg (latitude 26°S) and to assess whether vitamin D status is affected by maternal HIV infection. METHODS. We prospectively enrolled pregnant women and their healthy neonates, and measured 25(OH)D in maternal and cord blood at delivery. Pregnant women were stratified by their HIV status. Predictors of maternal and neonatal VDD (levels <30 nmol/L) were assessed using multiple logistic regression analysis. RESULTS. A total of 291 pregnant women and their healthy neonates were enrolled over a 21-month period. Mean (standard deviation) maternal and cord blood 25(OH)D levels were 57.0 (29.7) and 41.9 (21.0) nmol/L and the prevalence of VDD was 15.9% and 32.8%, respectively. On average, concentrations of 25(OH)D in cord blood were ~80% of those in the mother. There was no association between cord 25(OH)D and gestational age, but levels were associated with birth weight (p<0.001). There were no differences in maternal or cord blood 25(OH)D levels between those HIV-infected or uninfected. The predictor of VDD in mothers was giving birth in winter (odds ratio (OR) 2.87, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.47 - 5.61), and in neonates the predictors were maternal age (OR 16.5, 95% CI 1.82 - 149), being born in winter (OR 3.68, 95% CI 2.05 - 6.61), being born by caesarean section (OR 4.92, 95% CI 1.56 - 15.57) and being of low birth weight (OR 1.99, 95% CI 1.13 - 3.50). CONCLUSIONS. Among black SA women delivering in Johannesburg, about one in six mothers and one in three neonates have 25(OH)D levels indicative of VDD. Maternal HIV status appears not to affect levels of 25(OH)D in either the mother or her neonate. Research on the effects of VDD on the outcomes of pregnancy and the best methods to combat the high prevalence of VDD in women of childbearing age in the SA context is required.

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