Via Pune Mirror 22 Sep 2013
Recent reports from an ongoing research project being conducted by the Diabetes Unit of King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM) have shown that children born to women deficient in Vitamin B12 during pregnancy, show more insulin resistance as compared to others and consequently, are more prone to diabetes.
The research began in 1991 with 800 couples participating from the fringe areas of Pune. The diet and nutrition plans of these women were closely followed during the course of their pregnancy and it was revealed that 70 per cent of the women in the focus group were deficient in Vitamin B12. The study was conducted by doctors Urmila Deshmukh, Chittaranjan Yajnik and P Katre.
“In our country, we lay a huge emphasis on the intake of iron and folate supplements during pregnancy, but pay no attention to Vitamin B12 intake. In fact, we found that only a few women in our study were folate deficient. However, children born to these Vitamin B12-deficient women showed more insulin resistance and had more adipose tissue deposits (which are responsible for increased fat storage in the body). All these factors combine to put them at a higher risk of diabetes”, said Deshmukh. She added that though Indian babies have a lower birth weight or lesser BMI than Europeans, they are internally fat due to adipose deposits.
According to the research, Vitamin B12 deficiency in Indians is caused by their preference for vegetarian food over the consumption of meat and dairy products, which are a major source of the vitamin. Moreover, even non-vegeterians consume meat less frequently, thereby leading to the deficiency.
Dr Geeta Dharmatti, President, Indian Dietic Association Pune said, “B12 deficiency is becoming extremely common. There are certain intrinsic factors which determine the absorbtion of Vitamin B12 in the body, including anemia, lack of fibre, high acidity and errant lifestyle.
Dharmatti explained that even though Vitamin B12 is consumed, its absorption in the body falls short of the mark. Lack of Vitamin B12 also leads to a higher risk of cardio-vascular diseases.
Diabetologist Dr Rahul Dhope, of Noble Hospital, Hadapsar said the research highlighted the importance of Vitamin B12 in a pregnant woman’s diet.
Dr Mukund Penurkar, a clinical diabetologist practicing in Kothrud concurred, saying, “Earlier, we were unaware of the co-relation between a mother’s Vitamin B12 levels and its effect on the child’s insulin resistance. Therefore, not much attention was paid to it. Nowadays, we are increasingly seeing the correlation in our clinical practice.”