- Children with Vitamin D deficiency are more likely to develop allergic disorders like asthma, eczema.
- First two years of childhood have been flagged as a critical period for allergies and chest infections if Vitamin D deficiency persists.
- Lower susceptibility to infection such as fever and increased harmful bacteria in the upper airways heightens risk of asthma.
Prolonged Vitamin D deficiency in the first decade of life may increase the risk of allergic disorders like asthma, eczema in children.
The Telethon Kids Institute studied children under 10 who were genetically at risk of the condition, and found those who spent less time in the sun were more susceptible to asthma, allergies and eczema.
‘The sun is the best natural source of vitamin D, which is known to be important for lung function, lung development and immune function.’
The study's lead researcher, Elysia Hollams, said this was because vitamin D was important for immune function.
"Vitamin D can help to promote tolerance to allergens. So that means our immune system can ignore things that are harmless to it. When we get allergies is when our immune system has a response to something that it should just ignore."
The first two years of childhood have been flagged as a critical period for allergies and chest infections to begin growing into something bigger, but enough vitamin D can help prevent the development of asthma.
The study considered 50 nanomoles per litre as the cut-off for low vitamin D levels, but Doctor Hollams said they were yet to come to a conclusion about how much vitamin D children should be getting.
Children with Vitamin D deficiency at six months of age were also more likely to experience two conditions previously associated with heightened asthma risk: increased harmful bacteria in the upper airways and increased susceptibility to severe lower respiratory infections involving fever.
"That's the million dollar question, we really don't even know what range of vitamin D is optimal for normal immune development," she said.
Although vitamin D supplements are available, Doctor Hollams said parents needed to make sure their kids spent sufficient time in the sun.
In a statement, the study's co-author Prue Hart reminded parents too much sun exposure could be harmful.
"In summer, it's still important to wear sun protection during the hottest parts of the day and when the UV index is three or above," she said.