Babies born to women who suffered from Vitamin D deficiency during their pregnancy are more likely to develop obesity in childhood as well as in adulthood, a study has found.
Children born to mothers with very low Vitamin D levels during their first trimester are likely to have bigger waists or be about half an inch plumper on average by age six.
These kids also had two percent more body fat, than peers whose mothers had enough Vitamin D in early pregnancy.
"These increases may not seem like much, but we're not talking about older adults who have about 30 percent body fat," said Vaia Lida Chatzi, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California in the US.
"Even a half-inch increase in waist circumference is a big deal, especially if you project this fat surplus across their lifespan," Chatzi added.
Deficiency in Vitamin D also known as the "sunshine vitamin" has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes.
About 95 percent of the Vitamin D produced in your body comes from sunshine, Chatzi said.
The remaining five percent is derived from eggs, fatty fish, fish liver oil and fortified foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cereal.
For the study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity, the team examined 532 mother-child pairs, whereby maternal Vitamin D concentrations were measured during the first prenatal visit.
The results showed that about 66 percent of the pregnant women had insufficient Vitamin D in the first trimester -- a critical period for organ development.
Chatzi said, "Optimal vitamin D levels in pregnancy could protect against childhood obesity, but more research is needed to confirm our findings. Vitamin D supplements in early pregnancy is an easy fix to protect future generations."