Vitamin D status of pregnant women in Switzerland is unknown, and in addition, it is also unknown whether the current recommendation to supplement vitamin D intake during pregnancy improves vitamin D status of pregnant women. It is also not well examined whether and how strongly genetic differences in vitamin D metabolism affect vitamin D status of pregnant women and their newborns. The first aim of our project is to examine circulating vitamin D concentration in pregnant women and their offspring. Since skin pigmentation is an important determinant of vitamin D levels, we will compare vitamin D status of women/babies with light and dark skin color. Also, a variety of gene affects circulating vitamin D levels and the concentration of active vitamin D. In addition to genetic differences there are also so-called epigenetic mechanisms that are responsible for the activity of genes, which alter vitamin D level by changing the activity of genes. Thus, the second aim of our study is to examine genetic and epigenetic effects on vitamin D metabolism and particularly whether this differs between women and babies of different skin color. This study will be the first in Switzerland to determine vitamin D concentrations in pregnant women and neonates. By comparing the vitamin D status of a group of women at the beginning of pregnancy and at its end, we will be able to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation recommendations for pregnant women. Currently, it is unknown whether the recommendation of 600 IU does indeed improve the women’s vitamin D status, especially in women with darker skin, who have a higher risk of being vitamin D deficient. By integrating genetic and epigenetic aspects, we will identify sub-groups of the population that might be predisposed to vitamin D deficiency.
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