Taking vitamin D supplements in infancy may help a youngster ward off Type 1 diabetes, according to a review of the evidence released on Thursday in a specialist journal.
Doctors in Britain looked at five studies in which children were monitored from infancy to early childhood to see if vitamin D supplements made a difference to the risk of becoming diabetic.
The risk of developing the disease was reduced 29 percent in children who took extra vitamin D as compared to those who had not.
Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough of the hormone insulin, or cannot make proper use of the insulin it does produce, a condition called insulin resistance.
In Type 1 diabetes, so-called beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed in early childhood by the body's immune system.
The disease is most common among people of European descent, affecting around two million Europeans and North Americans, and for reasons that are unclear is becoming more widespread.
Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, is linked mainly with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. It is becoming epidemic in scale in many developed or fast-developing countries.
The new study, led by Christos Zipitis of St. Mary's Hospital for Women and Children in Manchester, northern England, is published by Archives of Disease in Childhood.