Newborns with low vitamin D levels seem to be more vulnerable to respiratory infections and the occurrence of wheezing.
Researchers analysed data from the New Zealand Asthma and Allergy Cohort Study which followed more than 1,000 children in the cities of Wellington and Christchurch.
The study was designed to examine the relationship between the actual blood levels of vitamin D of newborns and the risk of respiratory infection, wheezing and asthma, the journal Paediatrics reports.
“Our data suggest that the association between vitamin D and wheezing, which can be a symptom of many respiratory diseases and not just asthma, is largely due to respiratory infections,” says Carlos Camargo, who led the study.
“For example, bronchiolitis – a viral illness that affects small airway passages in the lungs – is the leading cause of hospitalisation in US infants,” adds Camargo of Massachusetts General Hospital in the US, according to a Massachusetts statement.
Although vitamin D helps in developing and maintaining strong bones, recent evidence suggests that it is also critical to the immune system.
The body synthesises vitamin D in response to sunlight, and achieving adequate levels in winter can be challenging, especially in regions with poor or weak sunlight.
Previous studies by Camargo’s team found that children of women who took vitamin D supplements during pregnancy were less likely to develop wheezing during childhood.