Sunning yourself for baby
Many pregnant women give up nearly everything while they're expecting--and most of those habits are worth quitting.
But whatever you do, don't surrender your time in the sun.
You and your child need the vitamin D delivered by our neighborhood star, and getting the right amount of sunlight during pregnancy can help your child years down the road. A new study finds that extra sunlight during the key first trimester may slash your child's multiple sclerosis risk decades later.
Australian researchers studied the birth records of 1,524 multiple sclerosis patients born between 1920 and 1950, and found a disproportionate number were born in November and December. Since Australia's summer begins on Dec. 1, these babies were all born in the warm-weather months.
But let's hit the rewind button on those pregnancies... because those summer births mean the future mothers went through their first trimesters in Australia's late autumn and early winter--when they were much less likely to be outside.
The researchers also found a disproportionately low number of MS patients were born in May and June, which means those first trimesters took place during the Australian spring and summer, when women are more likely to be outside.
Overall, they found babies whose first trimesters took place in autumn and winter had a 30 percent higher risk of MS than those whose first three months in the womb took place in spring and summer, according to the study published in the British Medical Journal.
It's not a definitive link, to be sure--but since we already know how low levels of vitamin D can increase MS risk, you just can't ignore this one.
In fact, MS rates overall rise as you move away from the equator. Nations with the most sunlight have the lowest risk. Those of us who live further north have the highest.
And vitamin D will do so much more than lower your baby's MS risk. Getting enough of this crucial hormone early on can also lower the future risk of everything from schizophrenia to diabetes.
But you don't have to wait decades to see those D levels pay dividends--when a mother-to-be gets enough of it during her pregnancy, her baby is much more likely to have stronger bones and a healthy birth weight.
So if you or anyone you love is pregnant, make sure that steady sunlight or a good vitamin D3 supplement is part of the prenatal routine--especially during the winter months.
And that same advice applies to the rest of us, since vitamin D has been linked to longer lives, stronger bones and healthy immune systems along with lower risks for everything from diabetes to heart disease.
About the author
Edward Martin writes House Calls, a daily letter chronicling the most cutting-edge alternative methods for beating diabetes and cancer, to the latest FDA foul-ups and Big Pharma conspiracies.
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