To assess the relationship between maternal and fetal mineral homeostasis, serum calcium, magnesium, inorganic phosphate, parathyroid hormone, and vitamin D metabolite concentrations in venous cord sera from 15 preterm singletons and 3 twin pairs were compared with the levels found in maternal sera. Cord calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus levels were significantly higher than the respective levels in maternal samples. There was a significant relationship between the two compartments for all three analyses. Cord serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels were significantly lower than those observed for the mothers. Association of the cord concentration with that of the mothers was observed only for the first two metabolites. There was no relationship between the maternal 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels and gestational age, calcium, magnesium, inorganic phosphate, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Cord 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D correlated significantly only with cord calcium levels. Immunoreactive parathyroid hormone levels were within normal limits both in cord and maternal samples. Our data suggest that after 31 weeks of gestation: (1) calcium, magnesium, and inorganic phosphate cross the placental barrier against a concentration gradient; (2) the fetus depends on the maternal supply for 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 24,25 dihydroxyvitamin D; (3) the feto-placental unit synthesizes 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D according to fetal needs.
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