News / Health

Low Vitamin D Puts Infants at Risk of Lung Infection

Increased levels lower likelihood of respiratory infections

Jessica Berman

A new international study finds vitamin D can lower the risk of respiratory infections in babies.
A new international study finds vitamin D can lower the risk of respiratory infections in babies.

Newborns with the lowest vitamin D levels are twice as likely to develop respiratory infections as babies with normal levels, according to new research.  

Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because the body produces it when exposed to sunlight. It helps build strong bones and bolster the immune system. And, now, a new international study finds it can also lower the risk of respiratory infections in babies.

Carlos Camargo and his colleagues  at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, measured vitamin D levels in frozen umbilical cord blood samples from more than 900 children in the New Zealand cities of Wellington and Christchurch. They followed the children from the age of 3 months until they were 5 years old.

"And what we found," says Camargo, "was that children who had the lowest levels of vitamin D had a high risk of developing infections and wheezing throughout childhood."

Children with vitamin D levels below 25 nanomoles per liter were twice as likely to develop respiratory infections, some requiring hospitalization, compared to infants in the study who had vitamin D levels of 75 or higher. However, low vitamin D levels were not associated with being diagnosed with asthma.  

While fortified cow's milk and cheese contain abundant amounts of vitamin D, the sun is the easiest and most reliable source.

So it was no surprise to that investigators found the lowest vitamin D levels among children who were born in the winter. "If you don't have high stores (of vitamin D) built up or you don't take a supplement, you're going to sort of drift downward," says Camargo.

Very few children in the study took vitamin D supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency is usually most common in countries furthest away from the Equator.  But Camargo says the problem is becoming more common even in warm, sunny climates.

"People are moving more and more indoors," he says. "They work indoors. They play indoors. Everything's indoors. So we're actually starting to see low levels of vitamin D in areas where the sun is plentiful."

The study linking vitamin D levels in infants to respiratory infection in childhood is published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid