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June 2, 2008

Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency Among Healthy Infants and Toddlers

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Adolescent Medicine (Dr Gordon and Mss Sinclair and Williams) and Endocrinology (Drs Gordon and Feldman), Clinical Research Program (Dr Feldman), Department of Radiology (Drs Kleinman and Perez-Rossello), and Division of General Pediatrics (Dr Cox), Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(6):505-512. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.6.505

Objectives  To determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and to examine whether 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) concentration varies as a function of skin pigmentation, season, sun exposure, breastfeeding, and vitamin D supplementation.

Design  Cross-sectional sample.

Setting  Urban primary care clinic.

Participants  Healthy infants and toddlers (N = 380) who were seen for a routine health visit.

Outcome Measures  Primary outcomes were serum 25OHD and parathyroid hormone levels; secondary measures included data on sun exposure, nutrition, skin pigmentation, and parental health habits. Wrist and knee radiographs were obtained for vitamin D–deficient participants.

Results  The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (≤20 ng/mL) was 12.1% (44 of 365 participants), and 146 participants (40.0%) had levels below an accepted optimal threshold (≤30 ng/mL). The prevalence did not vary between infants and toddlers or by skin pigmentation. There was an inverse correlation between serum 25OHD and parathyroid hormone levels (infants:  = −0.27, P < .001; toddlers: r = −0.20, P = .02). In multivariable models, breastfeeding without supplementation among infants and lower milk intake among toddlers were significant predictors of vitamin D deficiency. In vitamin D–deficient participants, 3 participants (7.5%) exhibited rachitic changes on radiographs, whereas 13 (32.5%) had evidence of demineralization.

Conclusions  Suboptimal vitamin D status is common among otherwise healthy young children. Predictors of vitamin D status vary in infants vs toddlers, information that is important to consider in the care of these young patients. One-third of vitamin D–deficient participants exhibited demineralization, highlighting the deleterious skeletal effects of this condition.