Diet, clothing, sunshine exposure and micronutrient status of Arab infants and young children

A Dawodu, K P Dawson, I Amirlak, J Kochiyil, M Agarwal, P Badrinath
Annals of Tropical Paediatrics 2001, 21 (1): 39-44
Vitamin C and D levels in Arab women and their newborn infants have been shown to be low. We investigated the prevalence of and risk factors for possible hypovitaminosis C and D in a convenience sample of 51 hospitalized children without clinical features of vitamin C or D deficiency. The mean age was 15.4 months. The serum vitamin C concentration was low in the mothers but normal in the children. Both mothers and children had low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) concentrations. Fifty per cent of the mothers and 22% of the infants and children had hypovitaminosis D (serum 25-OHD level < 25 nmol/l). Infants who received dietary vitamin D supplementation had a higher mean (SD) serum 25-OHD concentration than the unsupplemented group (62.5 (29.8) vs 38.5 (27.3), p = 001). Cutaneous light exposure in these children was poor. The children's serum 25-OHD concentration correlated with dietary vitamin D supplementation and maternal serum 25-OHD levels. The results suggest normal vitamin C status but a possible high prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in Arab children and their mothers in UAE. Health education to encourage greater sunshine exposure and improvement in maternal vitamin D stores and the availability of adequate vitamin D supplements would improve children's vitamin D status. The study indicates that hypovitaminosis D continues to be an important maternal and child health problem, despite the abundant sunshine.

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