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Milk in pregnancy may prevent brain disease

Wednesday February 10th, 2010

Women who drink milk during pregnancy may help their children avoid contracting multiple sclerosis, researchers will tell a conference.

Milk contains vitamin D and in some countries is fortified with the vitamin - and the vitamin helps prevent MS.

The results add to the evidence that increasing vitamin D levels during pregnancy may reduce the risk of the infant developing multiple sclerosis in later life.

Dr Fariba Mirzaei of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA, and her team have released preliminary results from their study of 35,794 female nurses whose mothers completed a retrospective questionnaire about their diet during pregnancy. A total of 199 nurses developed multiple sclerosis during the 16 years of the study.

Results indicated that the risk of multiple sclerosis was lower among nurses whose mothers had a high milk or dietary vitamin D intake in pregnancy.

Dr Mirzaei will present the results at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, in April.

She said: "There is growing evidence that that vitamin D has an effect on multiple sclerosis. The results of this study suggest that this effect may begin in the womb."

Dr Mirzaei explained: "The risk of multiple sclerosis among daughters whose mothers consumed four glasses of milk per day was 56 per cent lower than daughters whose mothers consumed less than three glasses of milk per month.

"We also found the risk of multiple sclerosis among daughters whose mothers were in the top 20 of vitamin D intake during pregnancy was 45 per cent lower than daughters whose mothers were in the bottom 20 per cent for vitamin D intake during pregnancy."

Besides milk, the top dietary sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, especially herring. Exposure to sunlight also important as it triggers vitamin D production in the skin.

Results to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, held from April 10 to April 17, 2010.

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Child Health | Diet & Food | North America | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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