A new study has prescribed vitamin D supplements for infants as these may cut their future risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
In the study, researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center, found that three-quarters of youths with type 1 diabetes were found to have insufficient levels of vitamin D.
"To our surprise, we found extremely high rates of vitamin D inadequacy. We didn't expect to find that only 24 percent of the study population would have adequate levels," said Lori Laffel, M.D., M.P.H., Chief of the Paediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Section at Joslin, Investigator in the Section on Genetics and Epidemiology, and senior author of the paper.
For the study, the researchers measured levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in 128 youths with type 1 diabetes ranging in age from 1.5 to 17.5 years.
The study sample included subjects with recent onset of diabetes as well as those who had long-established diabetes.
It found 24 percent had sufficient levels, 61 percent with insufficient levels and 15 percent to be deficient or having the lowest levels.
Generally, those with deficient levels were the oldest of the subjects. In fact, 85 percent of the adolescents in the sample demonstrated inadequate vitamin D levels.
The researchers found that diabetes itself can negatively impact bone health and is associated with a modest reduction in bone mineral density and strength and an increase in fracture risk among those middle-aged and older.
At the same time, vitamin D deficiency in infants and children is associated with bone deformation, while less severe vitamin D insufficiency prevents youths from attaining their optimal bone mass and may contribute to increased fracture risk later in life.
The researchers found that for these reasons, vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency poses an increased risk for children with diabetes.
In addition to reduced sun exposure, diminished milk intake, substituted by intake of sugar-free beverages among youth with diabetes, may account for inadequate vitamin D levels.
The study appears in the January 2009 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.