Lack of vitamin D at birth may increase respiratory infection risk
December 27th, 2010
03:54 PM ET

Lack of vitamin D at birth may increase respiratory infection risk

Here's more evidence to add to research from earlier this year that pregnant women need more vitamin D:

A study led by Dr. Carlos Camargo, Jr., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, finds that newborns with low levels of cord-blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D (a measure of overall vitamin D status) had a greater risk of respiratory infection than those who had higher levels. The researchers did not find an association with asthma, but respiratory infection exacerbates that condition, Camargo said.

"Mothers should be aware that vitamin D is important," Camargo said. "I wouldn’t want to change policy based on this first study, but I do think it supports the idea that vitamin D is important for health."

Vitamin D comes from sunlight and from dietary sources such as milk, he said. Many mothers have low levels of vitamin D, so there's little of it in the breast milk, which may lead to these negative effects on the child.

Scientists tested the cord blood from 922 healthy newborns in New Zealand. They asked parents about any respiratory infection at 3 months, a history of wheezing at 15 months, and then checked in again every year until the children turned 5 (89% of the children participated for the entire study).

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that children who had low vitamin D levels in the cord blood at birth had a higher risk of respiratory infection in their first few months of life, as well as a higher risk of cumulative wheezing in early childhood.

Researchers are not sure exactly how vitamin D influences wheezing, but one theory is that this nutrient affects the developing immune system while the baby is still in the womb, or even during the first few months after birth. Another possible explanation is that a mother relays behaviors such as time spent outdoors and characteristics such as skin pigmentation to her child.

The study is not the final word on this issue, however. It does not draw conclusions about root causes, and it did not look at vitamin D levels earlier in pregnancy or long after birth. It is possible that in the five years of followup some children received vitamin D supplements and others did not - this was not tracked. Still the researchers say that significant changes in vitamin D intake are unlikely because vitamin D-fortified foods are scarce and supplement use is rare in New Zealand. There could have been, however, changes in behavior involving sun exposure. Also, the researchers tracked respiratory infections based on mothers' reports, rather than medical evaluations.

Vitamin D has been showing all kinds of good results: Besides strengthening bones, it may affect the genes of cancer and autoimmune disorders, for instance, and counteracting genetic predispositions.

But too much vitamin D can be dangerous, so watch out. And in November, the Institute of Medicine, which advises the U.S. government in health recommendations, said that the majority of Americans and Canadians are, in fact, getting enough vitamin D and calcium.

Bottom line: Talk to your doctor about whether you need more vitamin D.

soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Bill

    If you go to almost an MD you will be told to stay out of the sun because of skin cancer risks and not eat dairy because it raises cholesterol levels. Now, we found out we are Vitamin D Deficient.

    For decades we were told to not drink coffee and now scientists tells us that coffee is loaded with antioxidants. Cigarettes were at one time considered harmless, now we know that they increase the risk of cancer. Solid and liquid foods are packaged in plastics, now we find out we out that we all have various different types of plastic stored in out bodies. Meat is both good and evil. Asbestos, DDT, x-rays were all miracle inventions now we fear them.

    It is all enough to drive one crazy. My mother used to say that if you did things in moderation and used common sense, you'd be okay. Both my parents lived to be 90. I think I'll follow her advice.

    December 27, 2010 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ruth

      Some people are more susceptible than others. There's always more than one contributing factor. I wouldn't touch a cigarette, but I never wear sunscreen, rarely wear a hat, and I hike at least once a week. I used to work outdoors a lot (never wore sunscreen). But I eat healthy, and have no wrinkles at 46 after a lifetime in the sun with no protection.

      December 27, 2010 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      We as a species learn more as time progresses. We know a lot more than we did 20 years ago about maintaining good health.

      December 27, 2010 at 17:49 | Report abuse |
    • Veganman

      Nope, Meat's evil 24/7.

      No dairy, no supplements, yet my Vit D level is still in "healthy range" per my Dr. Go figure.

      December 28, 2010 at 07:39 | Report abuse |
    • Kecia

      Continue to follow your Mother's advice and recognize that advances in technology and research are made everyday. There are studies conducted to provide us with better information than we had on yesterday so that we can all have a better quality of life tomorrow.

      December 28, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      The only way around all these problems is to eat a diet of fruit and raw vegetables. I did this 7 years ago at age 42 and cured myself of skin cancer and arthritis and many other ailments. I have a fair skin and used to avoid the sun because I burned so bad. I can now go in the sun all day without burning and get all the vitamin D I need. The cancerous lumps and sores just dried up and peeled off even though I was spending a lot of time in the sun. Dairy is one of the worst things for you; any good part is destroyed during pasteurization and processing.

      December 28, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse |
  2. Mama

    I recently had a physical after many years of avoiding doing so, and the only thing wrong with me was my Vitamin D level. It was on the low side of normal. I have taken a multivitamin every day for years, which includes the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D, so I was surprised to hear it was somewhat low. I had asthma as a child, haven't had it since then, and don't wish to have it ever again. I have to say I feel pretty good and it will be interesting to see if I feel any different once I start taking Vitamin D in the larger amounts that my doctor recommended. Has anyone started taking Vitamin D due to a low level and feel any different now that their level is normal?

    December 27, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      Your recommended daily amount shown on your multivitamin is probably 400iUs, but what you need is closer to 5,000 iUs (and yes they do make them in that amount). Supposedly it is difficult to overdose on Vitamin D, but if you did you would need to take over 10,000 iUs per day to do so. Getting enough Vitamin D will help your immune system and might even keep you from getting the flu.

      December 27, 2010 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
    • Steven P

      I agree. Another CNN article said that we Americans get too much Vitamin D!! What a bunch of crap. We don't get ENOUGH. Lack of vitamin D causes a host of problems. I take 3,000 units and I feel better than I have in years. Overdosing is NOT an issue.

      December 27, 2010 at 19:20 | Report abuse |
    • Papa

      Its better to get your vitamin D by itself in a good quality supplement than in a multi. Multivitamins usually have too low levels of everything they put in there making it virtually useless.

      December 27, 2010 at 19:23 | Report abuse |
    • The Sunlight Caller

      Your circulating vitamin D level should be in the range of 50-80 ng/ml, and not a nanogram less. This is the natural, healthy range with which humans evolved. If your doctor's recommendation is less- ignore him/her completely as they set their level based on ignorance.

      The kwey to vitamin D health is to maintain a state of repletion for life. This is where the full effects of the healthy level are most evident. At this level you will contract few if any colds and flu, never lack energy and always feel 25 years younger than your contemporaries who do not care about vitamin D. Not to mention protect yourself from a host of early onset chronic diseases.

      The study indicates the avergae level of circulating vitamin Din the study population was 44 nmol/L, deficient by any standard. What would have been the results had the population been at 150 nmol/L? Zero asthma and wheezing probably?

      To answer your question: OF COURSE you will feel better- 25 years younger.

      Who doesn't?

      December 28, 2010 at 01:35 | Report abuse |
    • AV

      I was told a few months back that I am low on vitamin D. I was given presecription strength vitamin D for I think 4 weeks (This was a few months ago. So do not recall all the details).
      To answer your question, I do not feel any different after taking Vitamin D. But it seemed harmless enough to take it. So I would say follow the directions of your doc. It cannot do harm is my gut feeling.

      December 28, 2010 at 09:13 | Report abuse |
    • Kaitlyn

      Mama, my husband went to the doctor several weeks ago because he was feeling so tired and worn out all the time. He's only 55 and in very good health. EXCEPT..... you guessed it. His vitamin D level was extremely low. His doctor put him on megadoses of vitamin D, told him what foods to eat and he's feeling so much better now. He was raised on the Gulf Coast and since he moved to Virginia, he hasn't been in the sun a lot. Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin, you know, and workes with foods that contain vitamin D. Anyway, he feels so much better. I bet many people who feel tired and run down are deficient in vitamin D.

      December 28, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • Oneforall777

      Mama. To answer your questions. 9 months ago I had a Vitamin D blood test and it was at 30, that is considered really low. I took it upon myself (after doing research), to begin taking 4,000 IUS daily in the sublingual spray form (gets into the bloodstream quicker). 6 months later I had it checked again and it was at 42, then I had it checked again after another 3 months (that's one month ago) and it was at 49. My goal is to get it to about 70 for optimal health, but it takes time as you can see. But it does work taking D3 this way. I live in Florida and still do not get enough sunshine obviously (or don't process it properly, who knows) and anyway I don't want to be out in that heat too long, better for me to do it this way. You must have your D levels checked every few months or so, as you don't really want to get your vitamin D levels over 80 or so, I think it can be toxic at that point. By the way, it definately helps with energy and overall feeling of health. By the way my Doctors Vitamin D level is 18! He's in shock and is taking 1,000 IU's daily (good luck to him only taking 1,000 IUs, it'll take him years to get up to optimal and yes, I told him so – he always has colds and allergies and always looks stressed out) – mmmm and we follow Dr's advice? Do your own research and listen to your own body and be bold enough to tell your Doctor what you think.

      December 28, 2010 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
  3. jah

    I was diagnosed with severe vitamin D defieciency in 2009. I had muscle wasting, that come to find out was because of it. I started taking 2000 IU daily and in the past 18 months have been able to build my muscle back up. Before taking it, I couldn't gain muscle no matter what I tried.

    December 27, 2010 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Supplements are better than MILK

      our milk is contaminated with hormones and toxins. They feed the cows the most nastiest foods, even other ground up cows! Guess where that goes, into YOU every time you drink milk.nothanks

      December 27, 2010 at 19:21 | Report abuse |
  4. Vitamin D

    Actually the opposite is true with my kids and we have been forced to cut milk OUT. Cow's milk causes all sorts of issues and many Americans are allergic to it, not just intolerant. We found out the hard way and now only drink Rice & Almond milk. Not only is it tastier but healthier. It also is not as contaminated as cow's milk is in this country.

    December 27, 2010 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      Couldn't agree more!

      December 28, 2010 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • charles s

      Most adults in the world cannot digest milk. Northern Europeans is one of the few groups in which adults can digest milk. It is called lactose intolerance if you cannot digest milk. If you can digest milk, it is a good food especially if you use organic milk.

      January 7, 2011 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
  5. Angela

    Take quailty vitamin D supplements. Do NOT get it from milk. My d levels were low and upping the milk did nothing but cause MORE congestion and stomach issues. So I found a good doctor recommended I take 4,000 I.U of Vitamin D a day and now my levels are higher and I feel alot better!!

    December 27, 2010 at 19:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      True! Milk is the root cause of so many respiritory problems. In fact; streptococcus bacteria, which causes strep throat, thrives on lactic products.

      December 28, 2010 at 10:42 | Report abuse |
  6. Kins

    Repiratory? In the HEADLINE, of all places, come on!

    December 27, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Reid Winick

    I am so happy about all these great posts regarding the benefits and proper dosage everyone seems to be expressing about vitamin D. We also avoid dairy because of how it produces mucous and doesn't supply any where close to the proper amount of vitamin D. My entire family does't miss a day without a good dose of Vitamin D. It is especially important during the flu season. I can't tell you how many patients we see, at Dentistry for Health New York, who have gum disease and turn out to be defficient in vitamin D3 levels.

    Hapy Holidays to all!!

    Dr. Reid Winick, DDS
    See our cable show: "A Better Way. A Sustainable Approach to Dentistry,"
    airing every Monday, at 8:30pm on channel 57 (Timer Warner),
    channel 84(RCN) and channel 35 (Verizon).

    December 27, 2010 at 20:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      All this information about taking Vitamin D supplements but no suggestions to get outside and get a little sunshine?? Sunscreen can block the harmful effects of UV rays, but NOT the helpful Vitamin D.

      December 28, 2010 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  8. Pam

    I had to have some tests run because of wheezing, muscle spasm and possible asthma. I was shocked to find out just
    how low my vitamin D levels were. The bottom low is listed as 30. Mine was 10. My doctors put me on prescription level
    of 50,000 units of vitamin D a week for 3 months. He said it takes time to build it up. Now I am feeling better and getting sunshine and walking. I did have a very bad respiratory infection before I went to the doctor so that might have been what triggered everything. Very low levels can lead to all sorts of health issues if not taken care of. Glad I did.

    December 27, 2010 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Sunlight Caller

      Prescription vitamin D is D2- utter junk.

      that is how much doctors know about the subject.

      Throw it away, buy D3 for a 1/10 the price at any box store, and start educating yourself about the subject.

      No patient should ever be prescribed D2- not for any reason. Read about the difference in bioavailability and ask your doctor why he would do such a thing?

      December 28, 2010 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
    • Article Sponsored by the Dairy Counsel

      @ The Sunlight Caller: I think the reason why her doctor and probably many other doctors give her a crappy form of Vitamin D is so that then they can say 'see it didnt work. Here try this prescription medication instead'. Its all a ruse.

      December 28, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse |
  9. Sam

    And the PARENST who DRANK ALCOHOL during CONCEPTION ...........Or Did the OTHER DRUGS...........Like Pot,Pills,And CRACK

    December 28, 2010 at 07:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. carolae

    This may be true for infants; however, growing up, I never liked milk and would only drink it with chocolate syrup. Even then, I hardly drank it. I'm 72, have no osteoporosis, only have milk when it is in pudding, so I would have to refute the comments of how not drinking milk will affect you. I agree with the comments regarding the mother during conception, who was drinking and smoking and perhaps taking drugs. Those combinations are worse than not drinking enough milk.

    December 28, 2010 at 08:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan

      The digestion of milk needs a lot of acid and to neutralize this acid your body uses calcium from your blood resulting in a net loss of calcium. A very useful source of calcium is in green leafy vegetables. Most fruits also contain significant amounts of calcium. Vitimin D comes from the sun, that is why people in cold places like Scandinavia (who drink more milk than anyone else) are normally low on vitamin D.

      December 28, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
    • MILK

      We are the ONLY species that continues to drink milk into adulthood. NO OTHER ANIMAL DOES THIS!

      December 28, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • charles s

      Not too many species eat cooked food either, I can only think of one. Humans eat almost anything, that is why humans are almost everywhere. Whether you can eat milk depends upon your genetic makeup. For most adults, milk causes problems. If you cannot drink it without problem then do not drink it. I drink it without a problem though my favorite fluid is plain filtered water.

      January 7, 2011 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
  11. Zee

    Even though medical science flip flops a lot about what's good/what's bad, overall we know astronomically more about how the human body works, and how to repair it than we did 100 years ago. The vitamin D3 info is not bunk. I was born to a woman who probably never got enough vitamin D the whole time she was pregnant, then spent a childhood getting sporadic exposure to the sun and did not eat foods that contained vitamin D. I developed life threatening asthma when I was 13 which became progressively worse and at 17 was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder that is fatal if not treated. I also experienced a big downswing in my mood yearly when fall and winter came. I have been taking 2000 IU of D3 daily for a couple of years now and the lab work pertaining to my autoimmune disorder is 100% normal, and my mood does not deflate in the fall and winter.

    December 28, 2010 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Beehive

      Years ago, many scientists dismissed the body as nothing more than an accident of 'evolution'. Even today some people erroneously think this. But now, with the mountains of evidence before us and the ability to really go in depth into our very cells and structure of our body, we can see how wonderfully we were designed. Also, we can see that when you go against what are body is meant to ingest naturally ( synthetic products, endless barrage of chemicals in our foods) there are DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES. The Earth is perfect for us. Enjoy the sun. Eat fruits and vegetables and lean meats and fish. The evidence speaks for itself that we are the most heavily medicated people here in America and we are PAYING FOR IT WITH OUR LIVES.

      December 28, 2010 at 11:54 | Report abuse |
  12. Kathleen

    I live in a northern state so started taking a vitamin D supplement in the wintertime. Come to find out, it also helps with hot flashes!

    December 28, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sharon

    Get some sun, people. The good that it does far outweighs the minor skin damage it might cause to your pathetic white skin.

    December 28, 2010 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LOL

      Funny comment but true. MORE Americans get cancers from the pollutants in our foods and products than from the sun. What about colon cancer? That is not from the sun but rather excessive red meats that are FILLED with hormones and other crap.

      December 28, 2010 at 11:48 | Report abuse |
  14. rick

    My brother was taking 5000 of D a day and ended getting kidney stones. I found out the other day from doctor i was low in D and he prescibed 1000 a day. He verified that the 5000 a day my bother was taking could cause kidney stones.

    December 28, 2010 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Barb

    Interesting now that BIG PHARMA ha developed these presciption vitamin D products all you hear about is Vitamin D defeciencies. when did your doctor ever check your Vitamin D Level before. can we spell (manufactured health problems)

    December 28, 2010 at 09:54 | Report abuse | Reply

      I agree 100%. They NEVER checked these things before that are vital. Another one is food allergies. Every article you read tells you that only children have it which is a bunch of crock. I developed it as an adult and now can no longer have milk products and shellfish. GET FOOD ALLERGY TESTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      December 28, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse |
  16. Natural

    Add a nice variety of fish to your diet and you will have all the vitamin D you need! (ex. tuna, salmon, Mackerel, trout)

    December 28, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Natural

      Oh and 86 the milk..........milk causes repiratory issues........ Vitamin D can be found in non dairy foods......

      December 28, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse |
  17. abbyful

    Vitamin D from sunlight and Vitamin D from supplements are not the same.
    Supplements are "okay", but sunlight is the ideal way to get Vitamin D.

    December 28, 2010 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. BadPatient

    LOTS of interesting things coming out lately. I read that being dehydrated will make your lungs send histamines (so you don't dry your lungs out) too. Sort of shuts them down so they won't dry out. Interesting since most of us are slightly dehydrated most of the time (too much sugar in our diet). Drink water. Lemons/Limes seem to be a good addition for a lot of people...supposedly makes us more alkaline to combat all of the sugar that makes us acidic. (Not sure if there's any research on this stuff or if it would be any good if they did, but i do feel better when i drink a lot of water with lemons in it.) Sun does seem to help also. get outside.

    December 28, 2010 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr Chitramoorthyramasamynaidokrishnavillaschandra

      Its all about acid & alkaline. Lime + Water = makes u feel better as this concotion is alkaline. Exercise is alkaline.

      December 29, 2010 at 02:15 | Report abuse |
  19. Dr Chitramoorthyramasamynaidokrishnavillaschandra

    Good article.

    December 29, 2010 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. charles s

    I know a girl who seemed to have classic symptoms of rickets: the lower legs were bent. Her mother loved cokes and soft drinks; no milk for her. This was many years ago and my wife mentioned it to me that her legs were bent. What amazes me is that I am sure that this child went to a doctor but he did recognize it. Of course this is American and no one gets rickets here.

    The acid is soft drinks has to be neutralized by calcium which is "pulled" from the bones. I wonder how many people will suffer for low levels of calcium due to soft drinks? I stopped drinking them several years ago and switched to water instead. Between low levels of calcium and vitamin D, how many problems are caused in older people?

    January 7, 2011 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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