Low Vitamin D Levels Implicated in IVF Failure


New research shows a vitamin D deficiency could be to blame in women who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) yet fail to conceive.

Insufficient vitamin D levels could be to blame in women who undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) yet fail to conceive.

While more study is required to prove that vitamin D supplements could improve IVF success rates in women with deficiencies, the authors suggest that the clinical implications of their work would mean a relatively inexpensive and simple solution to treating infertility.

Pertinent Points

- Low vitamin D levels may reduce the pregnancy rate in women undergoing IVF.

- Women with higher levels of vitamin D had better-quality embryos and an increased chance of implantation.

- The research, along with mounting evidence of the benefits of vitamin D in pregnancy, suggests vitamin D supplementation in women trying to conceive may be beneficial.

A study published this month in the Endocrine Society's The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that when undergoing IVF treatments, women who had sufficient levels of vitamin D were nearly twice as likely to conceive as their counterparts with vitamin D deficiency.

The link between vitamin D and fertility also suggested that women without the deficiency were more likely to produce high-quality embryos.

Italian researchers looked at women referred for IVF during 2012, including 154 women who were vitamin D deficient (defined as serum 25 hydroxy vitamin D levels < 20 ng/mL) and 181 who had appropriate blood levels. They found that while only 20% of those with low vitamin D became pregnant, 31% with sufficient levels ultimately conceived. Women who had serum levels of about 30 ng/mL, the recommended level for good health, had the highest chances of pregnancy, the authors reported.

"Although randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm the findings, our results certainly suggest that low levels of vitamin D contribute to infertility," said one of the study's authors, Alessio Paffoni, MSc, of the Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan, Italy. "Since vitamin D supplementation is an inexpensive and simple intervention with few relevant side effects, additional study in this area has the potential to markedly influence the way infertility is treated."

Furthermore, the authors note that there is a growing body of research that supports taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy. With other evidence pointing to how vitamin D may improve birth outcomes and prevent some obstetric complications, the authors suggest that research is beginning to point to the role of vitamin D in healthy pregnancies.

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