Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency Among Healthy Infants and Toddlers

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ObjectivesTo 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.DesignCross-sectional sample.SettingUrban primary care clinic.ParticipantsHealthy infants and toddlers (N = 380) who were seen for a routine health visit.Outcome MeasuresPrimary 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.ResultsThe 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: r = −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.ConclusionsSuboptimal 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.

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