Post-hoc comparison of vitamin D status at three timepoints during pregnancy demonstrates lower risk of preterm birth with higher vitamin D closer to delivery

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2015 Apr;148:256-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2014.11.013. Epub 2014 Nov 13.


There have been observational reports that maternal vitamin D status at baseline and not closest to delivery is a better predictor of pregnancy outcomes, suggesting that a cascade of events is set into motion that is not modifiable by vitamin D supplementation during later pregnancy. To address this issue, in this exploratory post-hoc analysis using correlation and logistic regression, we sought to measure the strength of the association between serum 25(OH)D concentrations at 3 timepoints during pregnancy: baseline, 1st trimester (<16 weeks); 2nd trimester (16-26 weeks); and 3rd trimester (≥27 weeks) and preterm birth. It was hypothesized that the 25(OH)D value closest to delivery would be most significantly associated with preterm birth. To accomplish this objective, the datasets from NICHD (n=333) and Thrasher Research Fund (n=154) vitamin D supplementation pregnancy studies were combined. The results of this analysis were that 25(OH)D values closer to delivery were more strongly correlated with gestational age at delivery than earlier values: 1st trimester: r=0.11 (p=0.02); 2nd trimester: r=0.08 (p=0.09); and 3rd trimester: r=0.15 (p=0.001). When logistic regression was performed with preterm birth (<37 weeks) as the outcome and 25(OH)D quartiles as the predictor variable, adjusting for study and participant race/ethnicity, as with the correlation analysis, the measurements closer to delivery were more significantly associated and had a higher magnitude of effect. That is, at baseline, those who had serum concentrations <50nmol/L (20ng/mL) had 3.3 times of odds of a preterm birth compared to those with serum concentrations ≥100nmol/L (40ng/mL; p=0.27). At 2nd trimester, the odds were 2.0 fold (p=0.21) and at the end of pregnancy, the odds were 3.8 fold (p=0.01). The major findings from this exploratory analysis were: (1) maternal vitamin D status closest to delivery date was more significantly associated with preterm birth, suggesting that later intervention as a rescue treatment may positively impact the risk of preterm delivery, and (2) a serum concentration of 100nmol/L (40ng/mL) in the 3rd trimester was associated with a 47% reduction in preterm births. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled '17th Vitamin D Workshop'.

Keywords: Cholecalciferol; Pregnancy; Preterm birth; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*


  • Vitamin D