Researchers are always able to surprise people by presenting facts that some would have never even dreamed about. On this occasion some of the specialists showed us that the degree to which a gene is switched on or off (related to vitamin D action) can predict the bone density of a child at the age of four.
This is a study that involved 230 children, observed over the course of four years. In fact they were a part of a much bigger research.
The bone density and size of the kids has been measured by a DXA scanner. Through this study the specialists were able to determine the extent to which the RXRA gene is on or off.
How did They do it?
In order to reach their conclusions, the specialists measured the epigenetic marks of the children’s DNA sequence in the cells taken from the umbilical cord upon the birth of the child. If there is little marking it means that the gene is active. This also means a high bone density of the little one at the age of four. Another interesting aspect to consider is that one of the marks can be related to the vitamin D levels of the mother’s blood during the late stages of pregnancy.
What is RXRA?
It is a known fact that the RXRA gene is very important for the body to be able to process vitamin D and several other hormones. If we consider the connection between the RXRA marking and the vitamin D levels of the mother we can see that the vitamin D levels of women during pregnancy are far more important than many health specialists believe at the moment.
The researchers don’t stop at this conclusion. At the moment they are conducting another study to see whether it is useful or not for pregnant women to be taking vitamin D supplements during their pregnancy. The results of the new study will become available in 2014.
The Big Picture
As it has been mentioned before, this research is a part of a larger one, which is meant to study how some factors, such as lifestyle and diet during pregnancy and the early stages of childhood influence the bone development and body composition of a child. This way specialists will know more about the body composition of children so that they will be able to take steps to improve the health of future generations.
photo credit: (http://www.medindia.net)