Food and Behaviour Research

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Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy and early infancy in relation to gut microbiota composition and C. difficile colonization: implications for viral respiratory infections

Drall K, Field C, Haqq A, Souza R, Tun H, Morales-Lizcano N, Konya T, Guttman D, Azad M, Becker A, Lefebvre D, Mandhane P, Moraes T, Sears M, Turvey S, Subbarao P, Scott J, Kozyrskyj (2020) Gut Microbes DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1799734.  

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In Canada and the US, the infant diet is supplemented with vitamin D via supplement drops or formula. Pregnant and nursing mothers often take vitamin D supplements. Since little is known about the impact of this supplementation on infant gut microbiota, we undertook a study to determine the association between maternal and infant vitamin D supplementation, infant gut microbiota composition and Clostridioides difficile colonization in 1,157 mother-infant pairs of the CHILD (Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development) Cohort Study over 2009-2012.

Logistic and MaAsLin regression were employed to assess associations between vitamin D supplementation, and 
C. difficile colonization, or other gut microbiota, respectively. Sixty-five percent of infants received a vitamin D supplement. Among all infants, infant vitamin D supplementation was associated with a lower abundance of genus Megamonas (q = 0.01) in gut microbiota. Among those exclusively breastfed, maternal prenatal supplementation was associated with lower abundance of Bilophila (q = 0.01) and of Lachnospiraceae (q = 0.02) but higher abundance of Haemophilus (q = 0.02). There were no differences in microbiota composition with vitamin D supplementation among partially and not breastfed infants.

Neither infant nor maternal vitamin D supplementation were associated with 
C. difficile colonization, after adjusting for breastfeeding status and other factors. However, maternal consumption of vitamin-D fortified milk reduced the likelihood of C. difficile colonization in infants (adjustedOR: 0.40, 95% CI: 0.19-0.82). The impact of this compositional difference on later childhood health, especially defense against viral respiratory infection, may go beyond the expected effects of vitamin D supplements and remains to be ascertained.