Does 'imprinting' with low prenatal vitamin D contribute to the risk of various adult disorders?

Med Hypotheses. 2001 Mar;56(3):367-71. doi: 10.1054/mehy.2000.1226.


Hypovitaminosis D is a candidate risk-modifying factor for a diverse range of disorders apart from rickets and osteoporosis. Based on epidemiology, and on in vitro and animal experiment, vitamin D has been linked to multiple sclerosis, certain cancers (prostate, breast and colorectal), insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and schizophrenia. I hypothesise that low pre- and perinatal vitamin D levels imprint on the functional characteristics of various tissues throughout the body, leaving the affected individual at increased risk of developing a range of adult-onset disorders. The hypothesis draws from recent advances in our understanding of the early origin of adult disease and proposes a 'critical window' during which vitamin D levels may have a persisting impact on adult health outcomes. Methods to test the hypothesis are outlined. If correct, the hypothesis has important implications for public health. Careful attention to maternal vitamin D status could translate into diverse improvements in health outcomes for the following generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology
  • Osteoporosis / etiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rickets / epidemiology
  • Rickets / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / embryology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology*