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Study finds vitamin D levels may not be affected by acute bacterial infections in children

Posted on: June 23, 2014   by  Will Hunter


New research published in Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health reports that, in children, vitamin D levels are unaffected by acute bacterial infections.

Acute bacterial infections are bacterial infections that are short in duration, usually lasting no more than six months. In these type of infections, the immune system is usually able to respond and adequately deal with the pathogen.

Low vitamin D levels have been observed in individuals with acute infections. It is not known whether these low levels are a risk factor for acute infections, or if vitamin D levels are reduced by the presence of acute infections.

Past longitudinal studies examining whether vitamin D levels are altered during acute infection in adults have found that vitamin D levels did not change over the course of the illness.

To better understand the relationship between acute infections and vitamin D status, researchers from New Zealand recently performed a study in which they looked at a population of children with acute illness.

They selected 30 children between 6 months and 15 years of age with acute bacterial infections. Their vitamin D levels were measured upon enrollment in the study and again one month later, provided they had recovered fully from their illness.

The researchers wanted to see if results from previous studies showing that vitamin D levels are not affected by acute infections would be replicated in this population of children.

Here were the results:

  • The average vitamin D level at the time of enrollment was 27 ng/ml.
  • The average level at the one month follow-up was 29.08 ng/ml.
  • The difference between the baseline and one month follow-up was non-significant.

The researchers summarized these results by saying,

“Our results suggest that in children, 25(OH)D levels are not influenced by the presence of acute bacterial infection.”

They went on to add,

“The results of our study may help the interpretation of studies where vitamin D levels are collected during times of acute infection, and clinicians can take some reassurance that vitamin D levels recorded in their patients during an acute bacterial infection are reflective of baseline levels.”

Besides the observational design of the study, there were other limitations. The researchers note that the lack of a control group and the small sample size could limit their results.

To get a more accurate picture of vitamin D levels in the absence of infection, the children’s levels should have been tested before they were admitted to the hospital with a bacterial infection. Because this was not possible, the researchers chose to assume that levels measured at follow-up represented the participants’ pre-infection vitamin D status.

Future studies with adequate controls are required to confirm these findings among participants of other ages more complete understanding of how vitamin D levels respond to acute infections.


Binfield, A. et al. Are vitamin D levels affected by acute bacterial infections in children? Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2014.

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