The study also found lasting benefits of the supplement for bone density up to age 4.
A version of this article was originally published on Dermatology Times by Senior Editor Carrie Nagorka. This version has been lightly edited.
Pregnant women who take cholecalciferol (vitamin D) supplements during pregnancy could significantly decrease the chance of their children having eczema, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Southampton’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre in England.
The double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial examined the relationship between maternal vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy with children suffering from eczema at ages 12, 24, and 48 months. More than 700 pregnant women were either given cholecalciferol 1000 IU/day or a placebo, taken from 14 weeks gestation until delivery. The prevalence of atopic eczema in the offspring was ascertained at ages 12 (n = 635), 24 (n = 610) and 48 (n = 449) months, based on the United Kingdom (UK) Working Party criteria for the definition of atopic dermatitis.
Investigators found that offspring of mothers who received vitaman D 1000 IU daily had a lower chance of atopic eczema at age 12 months (odds ratio [OR], 0.55, 95% CI, 0.32-0.97; P = .04]; this was not statistically significant at ages 24 months (OR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.47-1.23) or 48 months (OR, 0.75, 95% CI, 0.37-1.52). These are the first data to provide randomized controlled trial evidence of a protective effect of antenatal cholecalciferol supplementation on the risk of infantile atopic eczema.
The investigators also highlighted that more research is needed to determine why the effect was reduced at 24 and 48 months.
This research was part of the Maternal Vitamin D Osteoporosis (MAVIDOS) study in the United Kingdom, which also found that taking the vitamin D supplement during pregnancy had lasting benefits for the child’s bone density at age 4 years.
Lead author Sarah El-Heis, MD, said “Our results show that babies of mothers who received supplements had a lower chance of having atopic eczema at 12 months, which supports recommendations for vitamin D supplements to be routine during pregnancy”.
El-Heis S, D'Angelo S, Curtis EM, et al. MAVIDOS Trial Group. Maternal antenatal vitamin D supplementation and offspring risk of atopic eczema in the first 4 years of life: evidence from a randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2022;187(5):659-666. doi:10.1111/bjd.21721