Environmental factors as well as nutrition affect the growth of children. As uncontroversial as this statement is, so little is yet understood on how external factors actually contribute to growth regulation. A nutritional effect is again proven by a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (1). Scientists from the University of Toronto and the Health Center in Dhaka in Bangladesh have jointly explored the question of whether vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and lactation promotes the growth of infants. It has long been known from research that vitamin D influences growth, for example through the calcium and phosphate metabolism.
1,300 healthy women from a vitamin D deficient region in Bangladesh took part in the study. Two-thirds of them had a vitamin D deficiency. The women were divided into five intervention groups. Four groups received vitamin D at different doses from the 17th to the 24th week of pregnancy. One group received vitamin D in the first 26 weeks after birth. The control group consumed placebos. All women were also provided with calcium, folic acid and iron to the same extent. Measurements of the body lengths of the one-year-olds gave no statistically significant influence of the micronutrients on the growth. Even premature births were no less common. The experts suspect that the effects of vitamin D may have been attenuated by the addition of calcium and that untreated maternal nutritional deficiencies have delayed fetal growth (1).
(1) DE Roth et al. Vitamin D Supplementation in Pregnancy and Lactation and Infant Growth. N Engl J Med 2018; 379:535-546. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1800927, available at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1800927?query=featured_home