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Vitamin D deficiency could lead to paediatric deaths, study

Posted:  Thursday, January 29, 2015

The role of vitamin D in calcium absorption and metabolism is well known. However, a new study has revealed that vitamin D deficiency, accompanied by hypocalcaemia, can cause unexpected death in newborn and young children.

Published in the journal Pediatric and Developmental Pathology, the study examined 183 cases of death in children aged 2 days to 10 years between 2009 to 2012. The vitamin D status was evaluated in 51 cases and X-rays were taken to determine fractures. The cases were classified into 4 categories, namely vitamin D deficiency (VDD), vitamin D insufficiency (VDI), vitamin D suboptimal (VDS), and vitamin D adequate or normal (VDN).

The researchers found that 17 children were VDD, 24 VDI, 10 VDS and 1 case was VDN. The researchers observed that VDD was directly associated with rickets, a condition implicated to cause premature death in children.

Vitamin D deficiency can predispose a growing child to a host of health problems including apnoea, delayed motor milestones and skeletal deformities, as well as increase the risk of type I diabetes, bronchial asthma, and lower respiratory infections. The researchers suggest testing children with multiple fractures for vitamin D deficiency. A foetus receives optimum calcium and vitamin D stores in the womb and this process continues through its birth and development. Hence, maternal intake of these nutrients is very important for foetal health.

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