Does the beneficial effect of maternal gestational vitamin D supplementation on neonatal bone mass persist into childhood? Follow-up of the MAVIDOS placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomised trial

Disease - Osteoporosis

Lead applicant - Professor Nicholas Harvey

Organisation - University of Southampton

Type of grant - Clinical Studies

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £362,894.46

Start date - 5 September 2016

Reference - 21231

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

Previous studies have shown that babies born to mothers with low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy have low bone mass. The MAVIDOS trial investigated whether a mother taking vitamin D during pregnancy impacts on the bone mass of her baby. It was found babies born during the winter, when vitamin D levels naturally tend to be lowest, had improved bone mass. This research led by Professor Nicholas Harvey will follow on from the MAVIDOS trial and aims to test whether this improved bone mass continues into childhood (at 6 years old).

Why is this research important?

Vitamin D deficiency is very common and there is currently no other trial-based evidence to show that a supplement should be taken by pregnant mothers. Showing that the positive effect of taking vitamin D during pregnancy continues into childhood would support supplementation of the vitamin during pregnancy and also inform the safe and effective dose needed. It could also provide an important understanding as to whether the improvement in bone mass might be modified by diet or physical activity as the child grows up. The research will use bone density scans to determine the micro-structure of the bone at 6 years old in children involved in the MAVIDOS study. As well as a number of other measures, questions about the child’s diet, lifestyle, health and medications will be part of the assessment, along with a blood test to measure vitamin D status.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Improved bone mass throughout childhood would lead to reduced childhood bone fractures, and a reduced risk of osteoporosis (fragile bones in older age) in later life, leading to less osteoporotic fractures which currently cost the UK almost £3 billion a year and have a very large impact on quality of life. As well as this, demonstrating the benefit of vitamin D during pregnancy would be vital for the NHS and UK government health policy, and could also inform international policy.