ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Insight on Herbals Eludes Doctors, Patients Alike
Acupuncture May Not Help Hot Flashes
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Cane Use May Cut Progression of Knee Osteoarthritis
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
CAREGIVING
Falls Are Top Cause of Injury, Death Among Elderly
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Support Network May Play Role in Benefits of Drinking
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
DIET, NUTRITION
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
EYE CARE, VISION
Drinking Green Tea May Protect Eyes
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
Maximize Your Run
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
The Unmedicated Mind
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
SENIORS
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Add your Article

Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- At least 40 percent of American infants and toddlers aren't getting enough vitamin D, according to researchers from Children's Hospital in Boston.

Twelve percent of the youngest children in the United States are already deficient in vitamin D, and another 28 percent are at risk for vitamin D deficiency, according to the study, which appears in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Because human breast milk lacks sufficient vitamin D, the number of babies in the research sample being breast-fed were important to the findings.

"These data underscore the fact that breast-fed infants should be supplemented with vitamin D," said study author Dr. Catherine Gordon, director of the bone health program at Children's Hospital in Boston. She added that mothers who are breast-feeding often need vitamin D supplements as well.

Breast-feeding is a known risk factor for low vitamin D levels in infants, which is why many pediatricians routinely recommend vitamin D supplementation for breast-fed infants. Other factors that may contribute to low levels of vitamin D include not drinking enough vitamin D-fortified milk (for toddlers), staying out of the sun or using sunscreen.

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced naturally when the body reacts to sunlight. However, the use of sunscreen and advice to stay out of the sun -- which is important for preventing skin cancer -- may also be reducing levels of vitamin D in people. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones because it helps the body absorb calcium.

In addition to helping maintain bone health, Gordon said that vitamin D also appears to play a role in maintaining the immune system and that people with low levels of vitamin D may be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, and to certain cancers.

Previously, Gordon and her colleagues studied vitamin D levels in adolescents and found very high levels -- about 42 percent -- of vitamin D deficiency in teens. That finding made them interested in assessing levels in younger children.

The current study included 380 children between 8 and 24 months old. About 80 percent were from urban areas, and the majority of the youngsters were black or Hispanic, according to the study. However, the study made no association between skin pigmentation and vitamin D levels.

For this study, the researchers defined severe vitamin D deficiency as blood levels of less than 8 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), vitamin D deficiency as less than 20 ng/mL and suboptimal as less than 30 ng/mL. Gordon said there is some debate within the medical community about what truly signifies vitamin D deficiency, but that they felt current evidence supports the levels they used, and less than 20 ng/mL is the level her hospital uses as a cut-off point.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. James Taylor, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington, said that although he believed the study was well done, Gordon and her colleagues used a "higher cut-off" than what has been used by other researchers.

But, he added, because Gordon's team found X-ray evidence of low bone density in children who fell into their category of low levels of vitamin D, "it might be that this might be an indication of long-term problems. If this is the case, then Gordon and colleagues might have picked the right definition. However, it might be that for many of the children with osteopenia [low bone density], the changes are transient and not indicative of disease. Time and more research will tell."

The key findings from the study, according to Gordon are:

* Breast-feeding without vitamin D supplementation is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency.
* A higher body- mass index was associated with a risk of vitamin D deficiency.
* There was no association between the seasons -- an indication of possible sun exposure -- and vitamin D deficiency.
* There was no association between skin pigmentation and vitamin D deficiency.
* Consumption of vitamin D-fortified milk confers protection against deficiency.

Gordon said it's very difficult to consume too much vitamin D, so she recommends vitamin D supplements for breast-feeding infants and lactating mothers. She also recommends a multivitamin containing vitamin D for older children.

Taylor wasn't as convinced about the need for routine supplementation, however. "I think that more research is needed before routine vitamin D supplementation is recommended for all children," he said.

More information

To learn more about vitamin D, visit the government's Office of Dietary Supplements.



SOURCE: Catherine Gordon, M.D., M.Sc., director, bone health program, Children's Hospital, Boston, Mass.; James Taylor, M.D., professor, pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle; June 2008 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine

Last Updated: June 03, 2008

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