Late pregnancy vitamin D deficiency is associated with doubled odds of birth asphyxia and emergency caesarean section: A prospective cohort study

Hanna Augustin, Sinead Mulcahy, Inez Schoenmakers, Maria Bullarbo, Anna Glantz, Anna Winkvist, Linnea Bärebring

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Objectives: The aim of this prospective cohort study was to investigate the associations between maternal vitamin D status in late pregnancy and emergency caesarean section (EMCS) and birth asphyxia, in a population based sample of women in Sweden. Methods: Pregnant women were recruited at the antenatal care in Sweden and 1832 women were included after exclusion of miscarriages, terminated pregnancies and missing data on vitamin D status. Mode of delivery was retrieved from medical records. EMCS was defined as caesarean section after onset of labour. Birth asphyxia was defined as either 5 min Apgar score < 7 or arterial umbilical cord pH < 7.1. Serum was sampled in the third trimester of pregnancy (T3) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) was analysed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25OHD < 30 nmol/L, and associations were studied using logistic regression analysis and expressed as adjusted odds ratios (AOR). Results: In total, 141 (7.7%) women had an EMCS and 58 (3.2%) children were born with birth asphyxia. Vitamin D deficiency was only associated with higher odds of EMCS in women without epidural anaesthesia (AOR = 2.01, p = 0.044). Vitamin D deficiency was also associated with higher odds of birth asphyxia (AOR = 2.22, p = 0.044). Conclusions for Practice: In this Swedish prospective population-based cohort study, vitamin D deficiency in late pregnancy was associated with doubled odds of birth asphyxia and with EMCS in deliveries not aided by epidural anaesthesia. Prevention of vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women may reduce the incidence of EMCS and birth asphyxia. The mechanism behind the findings require further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1412–1418
Number of pages7
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number11
Early online date25 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Apgar score
  • Birth asphyxia
  • Caesarean section
  • Fetal distress

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