NOV 02, 2016 09:00 AM PDT

Vitamin D supplementation in Pregnant Women: Effects on Preeclampsia and Asthma in the Offspring

  • Associate Professor Channing Division of Network Medicine and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School
      Dr. Augusto A. Litonjua is a physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH). He is also an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

      He received his medical degree from the University of the Philippines Manila (Manila, Philippines). He then completed a fellowship in internal medicine and a chief medical residency at The Brooklyn Hospital Center (formerly Brooklyn Hospital and Brooklyn - Caledonian Hospital). He also completed two fellowships: the first in pulmonary and critical care at West Virginia University Hospitals, and the second in pulmonary disease at BWH. He is board certified in critical care medicine, internal medicine and pulmonary disease.

      Dr. Litonjua's clinical interests include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. His research examines the ways in which environmental exposures and genetic factors impact the development of asthma and lung function decline. He is currently studying the impact of vitamin D on lung disease, and his publications were the first to demonstrate that higher maternal vitamin D intake during pregnancy protects against lung-related illnesses in children. Dr. Litonjua has authored over 200 peer-reviewed publications and is the recipient of funding from the National Institutes of Health.
    • Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Director, Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine, Associate Director, Channing Division of Network Medicine
        Scott Weiss is the Scientific Director of Partners HealthCare Personalized Medicine where he supervises a faculty of 6 and a staff of over 100 who are dedicated to translating the results of human genome research into clinical medical practice. His laboratory has close working relationships with the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he is a Professor of Environmental Health (Respiratory Biology Program), the Biostatistics Department at HSPH, the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, and the Immunology Division, Department of Medicine, in Brigham and Women's Hospital.


      Vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency are prevalent worldwide, and pregnant women and infants are at highest risk for having deficiency and related consequences. Epidemiologic studies have shown an association between vitamin D deficiency and pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, and vitamin D deficiency has been associated with asthma development. We have hypothesized that vitamin D deficiency has contributed to the asthma and allergy epidemic in Western countries. We have conducted the first clinical trial of vitamin D supplementation in early pregnancy – VDAART, Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial. We will discuss first the effect of vitamin D supplementation on asthma and recurrent wheeze outcomes in the 3-year old offspring. We will then discuss our findings of the effect of vitamin D on the occurrence of pre-eclampsia, including results of the gene expression analysis in a subset of the participants. These results will highlight the importance of adequate vitamin D status in pregnancy and in the prenatal programming of childhood outcomes.

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