News article

High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in children living in high-altitude regions

Posted:  Monday, June 27, 2016

Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in child from high-altitude regions

Vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining bone integrity and calcium absorption It is also involved in various physiological and pathological processes. However, vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is endemic among children living in the plain of India. A new study conducted in the high-altitude region of Shimla district in India demonstrated that VDD was also prevalent in children there.

In a community-based cross-sectional study, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, thirty clusters of twenty children each were selected using PPS methodology. Gupta et al. collected data on the total time of exposure to sunlight and physical activity of 626 children aged between 6 and 18 years. Blood samples were collected to estimate the serum concentrations of vitamin D and parathyroid hormone (PTH).

The mean serum vitamin D concentration was found to be 11.7 ± 5.7 ng/mL. The study estimated the prevalence of VDD to be 93%, based on the serum vitamin D cut-off level of 20 ng/mL. About 30% of the children had a serum vitamin D level <5 ng/mL, indicating severe VDD. PTH concentrations of > 65 pg/mL indicated skeletal involvement.

The study results indicated that PTH levels increased with the increasing severity of VDD. The results also showed that 83% of children with VDD followed lifestyles with low physical activity. The study highlighted the need to tackle the high prevalence of VDD with an urgent action plan for disbursing vitamin D-fortified foods to all school-age children through public health programmes.

News Source: Status of Vitamin D Deficiency in School-Aged Children Living in High-Altitude Regions in India. Gupta A, Goswami R, Ramakrishnan L et al. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2016 Jan 1;7(1):12A-.