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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs