Vitamin D & Development of allergic (atopic) diseases - Does it help?
Updated: Feb 11
Past studies have suggested a potential link between vitamin D deficiency in mothers of infants and the risk of developing an allergic condition such as eczema, asthma or hay fever.
Recent evidence from a large study of mums and babies in Finland, not a country noted for prolonged exposure to sun!, has suggested that this may not be the case. In this study of 1000 babies, over the first 12 months after birth, the babies were given either a standard dose of vitamin D 10 mcg (400 /Units) - the same amount found in regular vitamin supplements, or an enhanced dose of 30 mcg (1200 Units). At 12 months, using a questionnaire, there appeared to be no difference in rates of food sensitivity or allergy to grass and/or tree pollen between the two different vitamin D supplemented groups. In fact in this study, they found that risk of allergic sensitisation was related closely to parents' history of allergy, as well as care in daycare or nursery. Interestingly this study of 1000 babies, did not show a reduction in risk of becoming allergic related to duration of breastfeeding the presence of older brothers or sisters or even to environmental tobacco smoke.
So, what does this mean? well. to this Paediatrician, the use of vitamin D to reduce risk of developing an allergy in Finland at least, doesn't seem to have been demonstrated.
But, vitamin D deficiency is a risk in many rural and poor urban communities, both in the UK and worldwide. Given that Vitamin D deficiency is related to poor bone health, then a daily supplement of 10 mcg/400 Units seems a sensible precaution in infants and young children, even if for the majority of healthy infants it may not be necessary, it does no harm, at the doses recommended.
High does vitamin D, given with additional calcium does have the potential for harm, and although essential for those children with underlying chronic liver or kidney diseases, in general is not recommended without expert supervision.