ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Tips to Ease an Aching Back
Scientists ID New Genes Tied to Crohn's Disease
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Study Cites Gains in Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
Study Links Pesticides to Birth Defects
UV Lights, Fans May Curb TB Spread in Hospitals
Birthmark or Blood Vessel Problem?
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Eating in America Still Unhealthy
Even in 'Last Supper,' Portion Sizes Have Grown
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
FITNESS
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
How Weight Loss Can Help the Heart
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Rapid Weight Loss in Seniors Signals Higher Dementia Risk
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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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