The study included 93 women whose levels of vitamin D were checked before childbirth and who received an epidural for their pain during labor. The researchers measured the amount of pain medication each of these women needed during their delivery, and found that those with the lowest amounts of vitamin D experienced more pain during childbirth and needed greater amounts of medication.
Vitamin D deficiency is common during pregnancy and some women are at increased risk, including those who are vegetarians, ethnic minorities, and women who get very little exposure to the sun. Previous studies have linked higher doses of vitamin D to a reduced risk for pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and infections. Fortified milk and fatty fish are common food sources of vitamin D, but most women get only a fraction of the vitamin D they need through food,
Senior study author Andrew Geller, MD, an anesthesiologist at Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said this study is an important step toward prevention and treatment of low vitamin D levels in pregnant women, and could have a “significant impact on decreasing labor pain for millions of women every year.”