CHILDREN grow up stronger if their mothers had increased amounts of vitamin D in their bodies while pregnant, a study has found.
Scientists made the discovery after recording levels of vitamin D in the blood of 678 women in the later stages of pregnancy.
When their children were four years old, their grip strength and muscle mass were measured.
Results showed that the higher the levels of vitamin D were in the mother, the greater was her child's grip strength. A similar though less pronounced correlation was seen with muscle mass.
Lead scientist Dr Nicholas Harvey, from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (MRC LEU) at the University of Southampton, said: "These associations between maternal vitamin D and offspring muscle strength may well have consequences for later health; muscle strength peaks in young adulthood before declining in older age, and low grip strength in adulthood has been associated with poor health outcomes, including diabetes, falls and fractures."
Lack of vitamin D has previously been linked to reduced muscle strength in both adults and children. Women are advised to take a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement daily during pregnancy.
The new research is published in the 'Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism'.