Vitamin D Status Is Associated with Mortality, Morbidity, and Growth Failure among a Prospective Cohort of HIV-Infected and HIV-Exposed Tanzanian Infants1-3

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Vitamin D is a potent immunomodulator, but its impact on morbidity and mortality among infants remains unclear.


The objective of the study was to prospectively assess the association of vitamin D status with mortality, morbidity, and growth during the first 2 y of life.


A prospective cohort of 253 HIV-infected and 948 HIV-exposed Tanzanian infants enrolled in a randomized trial of multivitamins (not including vitamin D) was studied. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations were measured at 5-7 wk of age and infants were followed at monthly clinic visits until 24 mo. Physicians performed a clinical exam every 3 mo or when an illness was noted.


Serum 25(OH)D concentrations were (means ± SDs) 18.6 ± 10.3 ng/mL and 18.1 ± 9.2 ng/mL for HIV-infected and HIV-exposed infants, respectively. Unexpectedly, serum 25(OH)D concentrations ≥30 ng/mL were significantly associated with higher mortality as compared to the 20-29.9 ng/mL reference for HIV-infected (HR: 2.47; 95% CI: 1.13, 5.44; P=0.02) and HIV-exposed (HR: 4.00; 95%CI: 1.67, 9.58; P < 0.01) infants after multivariate adjustment. We found no statistically significant association between 25(OH)D concentrations <10 ng/mL and mortality for HIV-infected (HR: 1.43; 95% CI: 0.74, 2.78; P = 0.29) and HIV-exposed (HR: 1.56; 95% CI: 0.60, 4.03; P = 0.36) infants. Among HIV-exposed infants, 25(OH)D concentrations ≥30 ng/mL were significantly associated with clinical [incidence ratio rate (IRR): 1.34; 95%CI: 1.06,1.70; P = 0.02] and confirmed (IRR: 1.71; 95% CI: 1.71; 1.15, 2.54; P < 0.01) malaria diagnoses, whereas concentrations of <10 ng/mL were associated with oral candidiasis (IRR: 1.47; 95% CI: 1.00-2.15; P = 0.046) and wasting (HR: 1.71; 95% CI: 1.20, 2.43; P < 0.01).


The observational design of this study does not allow for causal interpretation; however, the results indicate a strong need for additional studies of vitamin D among HIV-infected and -exposed children, particularly in malaria-endemic settings. The parent trial was registered at as NCT00197730.

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