Vitamin D levels in an Australian and New Zealand cohort and the association with pregnancy outcome

Rebecca L. Wilson, Alison J. Leviton, Shalem Y. Leemaqz, Paul H. Anderson, Jessica A. Grieger, Luke E. Grzeskowiak, Petra E. Verburg, Lesley McCowan, Gustaaf A. Dekker, Tina Bianco-Miotto, Claire T. Roberts

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Background: Pregnant women are at increased susceptibility to vitamin D deficiency. Hence, there is continuing interest in determining how vitamin D influences pregnancy health. We aimed to compare vitamin D status in two distinct populations of pregnant women in Australia and New Zealand and to investigate the relationship between vitamin D status and pregnancy outcome. This included evaluating possible effect measure modifications according to fetal sex. Methods: Serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25(OH)D) was measured at 15 ± 1 weeks' gestation in 2800 women from Adelaide and Auckland who participated in the multi-centre, prospective cohort SCreening fOr Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) study. Results: Mean serum 25(OH)D in all women was 68.1 ± 27.1 nmol/L and 28% (n = 772) were considered vitamin D deficient (< 50 nmol/L). Serum 25(OH)D was lower in the women recruited in Adelaide when compared to the women recruited in Auckland and remained lower after adjusting for covariates including maternal body mass index and socioeconomic index (Adelaide: 58.4 ± 50.3 vs. Auckland: 70.2 ± 54.5 nmol/L, P < 0.001). A 53% decreased risk for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) was observed with high (> 81 nmol/L) "standardised" vitamin D status when compared to moderate-high (63-81 nmol/L, aRR, 0.47; 95% CI: 0.23, 0.96). Marginal sex-specific differences occurred between vitamin D status and GDM: women carrying a female fetus had a 56% decreased risk for GDM in those with low-moderate levels of standardised vitamin D (44-63 nmol/L) compared to moderate-high levels (aRR: 0.44; 95% CI: 0.20, 0.97), whilst in women carrying a male fetus, a 55% decreased risk of GDM was found with high standardised vitamin D when compared to moderately-high vitamin D, but this was not statistically significant (aRR: 0.45; 95% CI: 0.15, 1.38). Conclusions: High serum 25(OH)D at 15 ± 1 weeks' gestation was shown to be protective against the development of GDM. A possible association between fetal sex, vitamin D status and GDM provides further questions and encourages continual research and discussion into the role of vitamin D in pregnancy, particularly in vitamin D replete populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number251
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes

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This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


  • Fetal sex
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy outcome
  • Vitamin D


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