Maternal prenatal, with or without postpartum, vitamin D3 supplementation does not improve maternal iron status at delivery or infant iron status at 6 months of age: Secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial

Karen M. O'Callaghan, Huma Qamar, Alison D. Gernand, A. K. Onoyovwi, Stanley Zlotkin, Abdullah A. Mahmud, Tahmeed Ahmed, Farhana K. Keya, Daniel E. Roth

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Background Vitamin D may modify iron status through regulation of hepcidin and inflammatory pathways. This study aimed to investigate effects of maternal vitamin D supplementation on iron status in pregnancy and early infancy. Methods In a trial in Dhaka, Bangladesh, women (n=1300) were randomised to one of five vitamin D 3 regimens from 17 to 24 weeks' gestation until 26 weeks postpartum (prenatal; postpartum doses): 0;0, 4200;0, 16 800;0, 28 000;0 or 28 000;28 000 IU/week. All participants received standard iron-folic acid supplementation. In this secondary analysis (n=998), we examined effects of prenatal;postpartum vitamin D on serum ferritin and other biomarkers of maternal iron status (transferrin saturation, total iron binding capacity, soluble transferrin receptor and hepcidin) at delivery, and infant ferritin and haemoglobin at 6 months of age. Using linear regression, we estimated per cent mean differences between each intervention group and placebo with 95% CIs, with and without adjustment for baseline ferritin or inflammatory biomarkers (C reactive protein and α-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP)). Results At delivery, ferritin concentrations were similar between each intervention group and placebo in unadjusted (n=998) and baseline ferritin-adjusted analyses (n=992; p>0.05). Compared with placebo, AGP was lower in each intervention group (per cent difference (95% CI) = -11% (-21 to -1.0), -14% (-23 to -3.5) and -11% (-19 to -2.0) in the 4200 IU/week, 16 800 IU/week and 28 000 IU/week groups, respectively; n=779). In the subgroup of women with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D < 30 nmol/L, ferritin was lower in each intervention group versus placebo (-23% (-37 to -5.0), -20% (-35 to -1.9) and -20% (-33 to -4.1) in the 4200 IU/week, 16 800 IU/week and 28 000 IU/week groups, respectively; n=645); effects were slightly attenuated after adjustment for inflammation (n=510). There were no effects of vitamin D on other iron biomarkers among women at delivery or infants aged 6 months. Conclusion These findings do not support improvement of iron status by vitamin D. The effect of prenatal vitamin D supplementation on ferritin may reflect an anti-inflammatory mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)282-292
Number of pages11
JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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