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Premature births: One in three pregnant women suffers from Vitamin D deficiency in Kashmir


Srinagar, Feb 15: Thirty four year old expecting mother Rukhsana (name-changed) was reported at Lal Ded Maternity Hospital with high blood pressure and searing pain in her calves.
After examining her, doctors found that she was not into the labour. Baffled by her condition, doctors ran some tests for proper diagnoses. One of her test reports showed that her vitamin D blood test levels stood at 0.04 against the standard 25 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml).
“I was brought to the hospital in a hypertensive state. My legs were failing me and I felt a searing pain in my calves,” said Rukhsana.
Doctors attending on her attributed the symptoms of weakness and high blood pressure to the low levels of essential sunshine vitamin.
Similarly, a 30 year old woman who was into her ninth month of pregnancy reported at the JLNM Hospital with a severe gut problem. Her test report suggested that her vitamin D levels had dropped to 4 ng/ml.
“She had frequent gut related problems. Impaired gut permeability leads to the passage of bacteria, toxins, or other substances through the gut lining into deeper tissues, and throughout the body. This aggravates the inflammatory immune response,” said a doctor attending on her.
Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin stored in the body, is known to play an important role in bone metabolism through regulation of calcium and phosphate equilibrium. Its supplementation has also been demonstrated to maintain intestinal integrity, thus reducing leaky gut.
Dr Nowsheen Khan, a gynecologist at LD Hospital, said one in three pregnant women in Kashmir have a vitamin D deficiency .
“It’s tough to get enough vitamin D from dietary sources. For six months, the sunlight isn’t sufficient in the region for our skin to make the vitamin. Even though we see the sunlight, it’s too low to produce vitamin D,” Dr Nowsheen said.
Dr Auqafeen Nisar, a resident doctor at SMHS hospital, said deficiency of Vitamin D is also linked to increased risk of premature birth, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.
“Preeclampsia is a condition that can develop during pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure (hypertension) and protein in the urine (proteinuria). If not properly recognized and managed, preeclampsia can progress to eclampsia, which is defined as the development of seizures in a woman with preeclampsia. However, proper diet and calcium supplementation may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, and may help to prevent preterm birth,” Dr Auqafeen said.
Doctors suggested that expecting mothers should bask in the sun for at least 15 to 20 minutes every-day.
“About 95 per cent of the Vitamin D produced in our body comes from sunshine. The remaining five per cent is derived from eggs, fish, fish liver oil and fortified foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cereal,” said a doctor
A recent study conducted by SKIMS reveals that low dietary vitamin D intake and poor exposure to sunlight are common causes of vitamin D deficiency in the general population especially women.