rss
Arch Dis Child 92:1088-1093 doi:10.1136/adc.2006.112813
  • Original article

High prevalence of asymptomatic vitamin D and iron deficiency in East African immigrant children and adolescents living in a temperate climate

  1. George McGillivray1,3,
  2. Susan A Skull1,2,3,4,
  3. Gabrielle Davie1,2,
  4. Sarah E Kofoed3,
  5. Alexis Frydenberg3,
  6. James Rice3,
  7. Regina Cooke3,
  8. Jonathan R Carapetis1,2,3,4
  1. 1
    Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2
    Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3
    Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
  4. 4
    Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia
  1. Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Menzies School of Health Research, PO Box 41096, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia; jonathan.carapetis{at}menzies.edu.au
  • Accepted 12 August 2007
  • Published Online First 3 September 2007

Abstract

Objectives: Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is common in immigrant children with increased skin pigmentation living in higher latitudes. We assessed the pattern of and risk factors for VDD in immigrant East African children living in Melbourne (latitude 37°49′ South).

Study design: A prospective survey of 232 East African children attending a clinic in Melbourne. Data were collected by questionnaire, medical assessment and laboratory tests.

Results: Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels (<50 nmol/l) occurred in 87% of children, and VDD (25-OHD <25 nmol/l) in 44%. Risk factors included age <5 years, female gender, increased time in Australia, decreased daylight exposure and winter/spring season. Anaemia (20%), vitamin A deficiency (20%) and iron deficiency (19%) were also identified.

Conclusions: Asymptomatic VDD is common in East African immigrant children residing at a temperate latitude. Risk factors for VDD limit endogenous vitamin D production. Screening of immigrant children with increased skin pigmentation for VDD, anaemia, iron and vitamin A deficiency is appropriate. VDD in adolescent females identifies an increased risk of future infants with VDD.

Footnotes

  • The study was conducted utilising the facilities and the material support of the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Centre for International Child Health, University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, and the Royal Children’s Hospital. No other funding was required.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Abbreviations:
    ALP
    alkaline phosphatase
    BMI
    body mass index
    95% CI
    95% confidence interval
    IQR
    interquartile range
    25-OHD
    25-hydroxyvitamin D
    PTH
    parathyroid hormone
    RCH
    Royal Children’s Hospital
    RR
    risk ratio
    SD
    standard deviation
    SED
    standard erythemal dose
    UVB
    ultraviolet B
    UVR
    ultraviolet radiation
    VDD
    vitamin D deficiency
    VDI
    vitamin D insufficiency

Responses to this article