A recent study published by the journal Pediatrics found that vitamin D deficiency diagnosis has exponentially increased among children in the UK in recent years.
Although vitamin D has continued to gain recognition for its role in childhood health, there is a lack of research evaluating the trends of vitamin D testing and diagnosis in clinical practice. Therefore, researchers recently conducted a cohort study to investigate whether the rate of vitamin D deficiency diagnosis among children has changed over time.
The researchers gathered the records of 711,788 children between the ages of 0-17 years from the Health Improvement Network database. This database contains large anonymized electronic records from primary care clinics across the UK. The researchers observed the trends in vitamin D deficiency diagnosis among children between 2000-2014.
The researchers found that vitamin D deficiency diagnoses dramatically increased from 3.14 cases per 100,000 children in the year 2000 to 261 cases per 100,000 children in 2014. After adjusting for confounding factors, the researchers observed a 15-fold increase in diagnosis between 2008 and 2014. Children who were nonwhite ethnicity, were of low socioeconomic status and at least 10 years of age were independently associated with an increased frequency of diagnosis. Boys who were less than 5 years and girls at least 10 years of age were more likely to be diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency.
The researchers concluded,
“There has been a marked increase in diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency in children over the past decade.”
It is important to note that this exponential growth in vitamin D deficiency diagnosis does not indicate an increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, but a change in diagnostic screening practices. These findings demonstrate increased recognition of the importance of maintaining optimal vitamin D status for supporting the proper growth and development of children among the medical community in the UK.
The researchers continued,
“Future research should explore the drivers for this change in diagnostic behavior and the reasons prompting investigation of vitamin D status in clinical practice.”
The Vitamin D Council recommends parents supplement their children with 1,000 IU vitamin D3 per 25 pounds of body weight (with a max of 5,000 IU/day) during times they are unable to receive safe, sensible full-body sun exposure when their shadow is shorter than they are tall.