Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memo to pediatricians: Screen all kids for vitamin D deficiency, test those at high risk

Date:
February 22, 2012
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Summary:
As study after study shows the fundamental role vitamin D plays in disease and health, vitamin D deficiency — which often develops insidiously in childhood — should be on every parent’s and pediatrician’s radar, say physicians.

As study after study shows the fundamental role vitamin D plays in disease and health, vitamin D deficiency -- which often develops insidiously in childhood -- should be on every parent's and pediatrician's radar, say physicians from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Related Articles


"Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem year round, but because sun exposure is critical for vitamin D synthesis and production, the winter months further exacerbate what is a perennial problem," says Johns Hopkins Children's Center endocrinologist Dominique Long, M.D.

Levels at or below 20 nanograms per milliliter are considered suboptimal. Levels below 15 constitute deficiency and should be treated with supplements.

Hopkins experts say pediatricians should screen all children for risk factors and order blood tests for those found to be at high risk. Children at risk for vitamin D deficiency include:

  • those with vitamin D-poor diets
  • breast-fed infants because breast milk contains minimal vitamin D
  • obese children
  • those with darker skin because darker skin synthesizes less vitamin D from sun exposure than lighter skin
  • those with certain medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes and certain gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, which can interfere with food absorption
  • Several large-scale studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is widespread -- one in 10 U.S. children are estimated to be deficient -- and that 60 percent of children may have suboptimal levels of vitamin D.

Prolonged and untreated vitamin D deficiency can affect multiple organs and functions, including bone growth and density, metabolism, heart and immunity, but it rarely causes overt symptoms and often goes unnoticed.

Vitamin D deficiency in childhood can cause skeletal deformities, brittle bones, frequent fractures and lead to premature osteoporosis in later life. However emerging evidence suggests that vitamin D is involved in far more than bone health. Recent studies have found a link between low vitamin D levels and some cancers, heart disease, suppressed immunity and even premature death. These studies do not show that vitamin D deficiency can cause cancer or heart disease, experts caution, but do suggest that vitamin D may be a powerful player in the genesis of such disorders.

Much of our life-long health is pre-programmed in childhood, and many adult diseases are rooted in exposures, lifestyle and diet during the first decade of life, experts say, and vitamin D, or lack of it, is a classic example.

Long says that she sees at least one toddler with rickets-induced bowing of the legs in her clinic every month and at least one patient per year with seizures stemming from low calcium levels. Without sufficient vitamin D, only 15 percent of the dietary calcium is absorbed, and low calcium can, in rare cases, cause seizures and heart-rhythm anomalies, Long says. Other symptoms of low calcium include poor muscle tone, insufficient dental enamel and muscle spasms.

The good news is that once detected, vitamin D deficiency can be usually corrected easily with high-dose supplementation, Long says. To prevent vitamin D deficiency, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all breastfed infants receive supplemental 400 IU daily until they are weaned and start consuming vitamin D-fortified formula or other foods. The recommended daily dietary intake of vitamin D is 400 IU for children younger than 1 year, and 600 IU for those older than 1 year.

In addition, Long says, parents should ensure children get enough vitamin D in their diets. Foods rich on vitamin D include fish (sardines, salmon tuna), egg yolks, vitamin D-fortified milk, vitamin D-fortified orange juice, cereals, yogurt and cheese.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Memo to pediatricians: Screen all kids for vitamin D deficiency, test those at high risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120222204235.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2012, February 22). Memo to pediatricians: Screen all kids for vitamin D deficiency, test those at high risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120222204235.htm
Johns Hopkins Medicine. "Memo to pediatricians: Screen all kids for vitamin D deficiency, test those at high risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120222204235.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

Rural India's Low-Cost Sanitary Pad Revolution

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — One man hopes his invention -– a machine that produces cheap sanitary pads –- will help empower Indian women. Duration: 01:51 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

Research on Bats Could Help Develop Drugs Against Ebola

AFP (Nov. 28, 2014) — In Africa's only biosafety level 4 laboratory, scientists have been carrying out experiments on bats to understand how virus like Ebola are being transmitted, and how some of them resist to it. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

WHO Says Male Ebola Survivors Should Abstain From Sex

Newsy (Nov. 28, 2014) — WHO cites four studies that say Ebola can still be detected in semen up to 82 days after the onset of symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins