Type 2 Diabetes – Does Smoking and Low Vitamin D Levels Cause Problems During Pregnancy?

Keeping up good nutrition plus not smoking are important during any pregnancy. Mothers and their fetus need vitamin D to keep up healthy levels of calcium and phosphate. Calcium and phosphate are two minerals necessary for healthy bones. And smoking lowers the amount of oxygen reaching the fetus. Several studies have shown the importance of adequate vitamin D levels to help prevent Gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes. Now scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax and several other institutions in Canada have found smoking worsens the relationship between a vitamin D deficiency and Gestational diabetes.

In May of 2016, the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology reported on the Canadian study comparing…

  • 395 Gestational diabetes cases, and
  • 1925 healthy pregnancies.

Smokers with low vitamin D concentrations had a higher risk of developing diabetes during their pregnancy than did nonsmokers with adequate vitamin D levels. Both smoking and having low vitamin D levels put women at a greater risk than either risk factor alone. The researchers concluded more investigation is needed to confirm their results and study the interactive effect of smoking and low vitamin D levels.

A total of 20 ng/ml (nanograms/milliliter) to 50 ng/ml of vitamin D is considered an average blood level. If the level falls below 12 ng/ml, it is seen as deficient. Vitamin D deficiency could have been what Charles Dickens had in mind when he created Tiny Tim crippled. A deficiency of the vitamin causes rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults: bones can become brittle, thin, or misshapen.

Fortunately, both human skin and mushrooms make vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. So mothers can take in their vitamin D naturally from being outdoors for a few minutes a day without sunscreen, or from placing mushrooms in the sun before eating them…

  • soy milk,
  • orange juice, and many
  • breakfast cereals

are fortified with vitamin D, as are prenatal vitamins.

Nicotine is highly addictive, so it is a good idea not to start smoking. Smokers need not give up hope, though, because there are programs and devices to help smokers quit…

  • nicotine patches,
  • lozenges, and
  • gum

are healthy alternatives to wean anyone away from smoking. Some public health departments provide free supplies to qualified applicants. In California, the United States, for instance, pregnant women can get free patches. Various electronic devices work by delivering nicotine and different other chemicals through an aerosol vapor instead of smoke. So most of the harmful ingredients of cigarettes are eliminated. Gradually smokers lose their craving for nicotine as they progress to lower and lower doses.