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Low level of Vitamin D linked to infections during pregnancy

May 01, 2009

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that affects about 30% of women between the ages of 14 and 50. It is caused by changes to the normal chemical and biological balance of the vaginal microflora (healthy bacteria vs. problematic bacteria).  

Having a low level of Vitamin D increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis, a common vaginal infection linked to adverse pregnancy outcomes, suggests a new study of 469 women who were participating in a pregnancy cohort study. Vitamin D blood levels below 20 nmol/L were associated with a 34% increase in the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis compared to women with vitamin D levels over 80 nmol/L.

The researchers led by Dr. Lisa Bodnar from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, found a protective effect from vitamin D most likely due to the vitamin’s influence on the immune system. Dr. Bodnar et al examined the pelvises of 469 pregnant women before week 16 of their pregnancy. Blood samples allowed for the measurement of serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), the non-active “storage” form.

According to the study, 41% of all the women had BV, and 52 % were classed as vitamin D deficient, equivalent to 25(OH)D levels below 37.5 nmol/L. Women with BV were found to have a lower average 25(OH)D levels (29.5 nmol/L) compared to women free of BV (40.1 nmol/L), said the researchers. Looking at the same issue from another angle, 57% of women with low 25(OH)D levels lower than 20 nmol/L had BV, while BV was diagnosed in only 23% of women with a 25(OH)D levels over 80 nmol/L. The study is published online ahead of print, in the April 8th, 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.