A recent study by Marshall University scientists Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine showed that exposure to altered levels of vitamin D and/or thyroid hormone during pregnancy can have lasting effects on the development of a child even after birth.
A retrospective study was conducted to examine the correlation between 20 different elemental levels, thyroid hormone levels and vitamin D levels in umbilical cord blood collected at birth and a child’s developmental milestones. The levels were compared to the results of examinations of healthy children who were carried out from birth to 5 years of age.
The results, recently published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, an open-access, peer-reviewed medical journal focusing on clinical and basic medicine and pharmacology, showed that vitamin D levels were associated with delayed fine motor development and thyroid hormone levels were associated with cognitive development. Certain metals such as lead, mercury, copper and manganese were associated with the development of language, cognitive or motor skills.
“Our study demonstrates the importance of the in utero environment,” said Jesse Cottrell, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “The study found multiple associations between umbilical cord essential and toxic elements, thyroid levels, and vitamin D on child development for a pronounced period after birth.”
“Very little existing research addresses the long-term effects on child development of in utero exposure to environmental agents,” said Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., professor of biomedical sciences and coordinator of the group of toxicology research at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. and corresponding author of the study. “With the original umbilical cord blood samples collected in 2013, long-term follow-up of developmental outcomes adds significantly to the literature.”
Reference: Reference: “Effect of essential and toxic elements of the umbilical cord, thyroid levels and vitamin D on child development” by Jesse Cottrell, Chelsea Nelson, Catherine Waldron, Mackenzie Bergeron, Abigail Samson and Monica Valentinovic, December 9, 2022, Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy.
The study was funded by the Robert C. Byrd Center for Rural Health at Marshall University, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Translational Research Pilot Program, and a grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The team continues to study the development of children beyond the age of 5 as well as in utero exposure to environmental metals and the impact on newborn development or health effects related to vitamin D levels. .