Tommy's news, 15/11/2017
Today, research was released that links vitamin D with better live birth rates in women undergoing assisted reproduction treatment (ART).
Researchers from Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research at the University of Birmingham investigated the connection between vitamin D and the outcomes of assisted reproduction treatment, such as IVF and frozen embryo transfer.
The team analysed data from 11 studies that included 2,700 women who were undergoing ART. They found that live births were a third more likely to occur in women who had the right amount of vitamin D compared to women who did not.
The researchers also found that women who had sufficient vitamin D were 34% more likely to have a positive pregnancy test and 46% more likely to achieve a clinical pregnancy, compared to women who had low levels of vitamin D.
Lead researcher Dr Justin Chu has cautioned that the findings do not mean that vitamin D supplementation necessarily improves women’s chances of having a baby following ART, as the research can only show an association.
However, these promising findings do highlight the need for more investigation in this area. Researchers are calling for a clinical trial to further investigate the potential role of vitamin D in pregnancy.
Dr Chu said,
‘Although an association has been identified, the beneficial effect of correction of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency needs to be tested by performing a clinical trial.’
‘In the meantime, women who want to achieve a successful pregnancy should not rush off to their local pharmacy to buy vitamin D supplements until we know more about its effects.’
‘It is possible to overdose on vitamin D and this can lead to too much calcium building up in the body, which can weaken bones and damage the heart and kidneys.’
Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight. Other studies have shown that there are higher conception rates in summer and autumn when women might be expected to have more vitamin D due to exposure to summer sunshine. Foods such as oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks also provide vitamin D, as well as vitamin D supplements.
The team say that possible roles played by vitamin D in pregnancy may be that it affects the success of embryo implantation in the womb in some way, or that it indicates the general wellbeing of the women.
Dr Chu added,
‘Testing for vitamin D concentrations is relatively cheap and widely available and its treatment is not costly.’
‘It could be that correcting vitamin D deficiency could benefit women undergoing assisted reproduction treatment, but further research is needed to test this.’
Find all the information you will need for getting pregnancy ready.
Read more about the study on the Human Reproduction website.
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.
The day before Mother’s Day, and two days before the UK officially went into coronavirus lockdown, Zara Dawson found out she was having a miscarriage. Her third consecutive miscarriage in less than a year, and fourth consecutive loss, after losing her second son Jesse in 2018 to termination for medical reasons.