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Children's health

Millions of U.S. Children are Vitamin D Deficient, Warn Researchers

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: children's health, health news, Natural News


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(NaturalNews) Vitamin D deficiency is widespread among infants and toddlers, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Children's Hospital in Boston, and published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Vitamin D plays a critical role in bone health and development, and insufficient levels during childhood can lead to the development of a bone-softening disorder known as rickets that can lead to permanent deformities. In adults, deficiency can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D is also believed to play a role in immune system health and preventing cancer and autoimmune disorders.

Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in 380 children between the ages of eight and 24 months. Most of the children were black or Hispanic, and 80 percent lived in urban areas.

The researchers found that 40 percent of the children had insufficient levels of vitamin D, with 12 percent considered vitamin D deficient and 28 percent at risk of deficiency. These results mirror a prior study of adolescents by the same research team, which found that 42 percent of teenagers were vitamin D deficient.

The researchers also took bone X-rays of the children in the study, and found that those classified as vitamin D deficient had lower bone density than other children.

Because the body produces vitamin D upon exposure to the ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, people with darker skin who live far from the equator are thought to be at particular risk for deficiency, especially in the winter. But the researchers did not find any correlation between vitamin D deficiency and race or time of year

They did find that people with higher body mass indexes - a measure of obesity - were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency than those with a lower relative body weight.

Health professionals believe that one of the reasons for increased vitamin D deficiency is growing concern over skin cancer, and parents keeping their children out of the sun or overusing sunscreen, which blocks ultraviolet radiation.

Sources for this story include: www.washingtonpost.com.

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