Hypovitaminosis D in pregnancy in the Mediterranean region: a systematic review

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Sep;70(9):979-86. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.12. Epub 2016 Mar 2.


Despite high levels of sunshine, maternal hypovitaminosis D during pregnancy is prevalent in the Mediterranean region. The aim of this study is to systematically review trials that investigated vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy in this region, in order to determine predictors of hypovitaminosis D and explain this phenomenon. After applying inclusion/exclusion criteria, 15 studies were entered into the systematic review involving 2649 pregnant women and 820 neonates. The main outcome was maternal vitamin D status, assessed by serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations. Possible predictors of the outcome included maternal age, body mass index (BMI), race, socioeconomic status, skin type, gestational age, sun exposure, calcium and vitamin D intake and supplementation, smoking status, parity and season of delivery. Studies differed widely in vitamin D deficiency criteria, method of measurement and outcomes. The prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency ranges from 9.3 to 41.4%, whereas that of vitamin D deficiency from 22.7 to 90.3%. A positive association with 25(OH)D concentrations exists for light skin color, white race, uncovered dressing pattern, maternal vitamin D supplementation and season of gestation (spring/summer). An inverse association exists for BMI and gestational age, whereas data for smoking and socioeconomic status are controversial. We concluded that vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy seems to be quite common, even in the Mediterranean region. Racial, social and cultural habits, as well as the absence of preventive supplementation/dietary strategies, seem to negate the benefits of sun exposure.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mediterranean Region
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / etiology*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D