Maternal risk factors and newborn infant vitamin D status: a scoping literature review

Nutr Res. 2019 Mar;63:1-20. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2018.11.011. Epub 2018 Dec 7.


Low vitamin D (VitD) status is common among newborn infants, more so in temperate latitudes with evidence that maternal VitD deficiency is a major risk factor given that the neonate relies solely on maternal-fetal transfer of VitD. This scoping review was conducted to provide an overview of the latest evidence from studies regarding the impact of maternal risk factors on infant 25-hydryoxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations with a focus on studies in Canada and the United States. Several maternal risk factors that contribute to low maternal-fetal 25(OH)D concentrations have been reported over many decades, but no clear pattern has been established for multiethnic populations. For example, darker skin pigmentation and ethnicity are common risk factors for low VitD status. Studies in predominantly white women showed that supplementation of VitD during pregnancy causes significant increases in maternal serum 25(OH)D which often improves cord serum 25(OH)D values. In addition, VitD recommendations by health care professionals and adherence to supplementation by pregnant women appear to positively influence maternal and infant 25(OH)D concentrations. Conversely, winter season, obesity, lower socioeconomic status including lifestyle factors (smoking), and use of medication pose risk for lower maternal-fetal transfer of VitD. However, there is still a dearth of pertinent data on the relationship between some of the maternal risk factors and newborn 25(OH)D concentrations, for instance, relationships between gestational diabetes and neonatal VitD status. Additional research is required to determine if the same target for 25(OH)D concentrations applies for pregnant women, neonates, and infants.

Keywords: Neonates; Pregnancy; Risk factors; Vitamin D status.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / blood*
  • Maternal Health*
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D