During a separate trial to assess the effect of folic acid and/or vitamin B12 on young children, academics also examined the extent to which vitamin D deficiency at baseline predicted the incidence of respiratory infections during a six month follow-up period for 960 children.
Of these, 331 (34.5%) children were vitamin D deficient (<10 ng/ml). Approximately half of the enrolled children were boys and almost all (98%) were breastfed.
Over 36.4% of the children were stunted, 31% were underweight, and 10.7% wasted. Approximately 70% of the children were anaemic.
The incidence of respiratory infections was significantly higher among vitamin D deficient children than in vitamin-D replete children However, the incidence of clinical pneumonia was not significantly associated with vitamin D status
“Similar findings have been shown in previous observational studies,” wrote researchers in the journal PLOS One.
“The protective role of vitamin D against respiratory infections can be explained through its modulatory effect of both innate and adaptive immunity and regulatory function of inflammatory cascade.”
Poor vitamin D status was not associated with an increased incidence and severity of diarrhoea in the study, which is in line with findings from another observational study, noted the researchers from the Centre for Health Research and Development in New Delhi.
They added the results of this study could have important public health implications.
“Fortified foods have been recognised as an important source of vitamin D so [products] such as oils, cereal powders and even salt fortification may help in preventing vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended in many countries, and such public health interventions need serious consideration in the Indian context.”
Randomised controlled trials measuring the effect of vitamin D supplementation in this setting should be prioritised, they added.
Source: PLOS One
"Vitamin-D deficiency predicts infections in young north Indian children: A secondary data analysis”
Authors: Ranadip Chowdhury, et al.