BAME babies at highest risk of Vitamin D deficiency

December 16, 2020

A third of all babies and half of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) babies are vitamin D deficient, a large study of 3000 newborn's in the West Midlands has shown, highlighting potential shortfalls in the current UK antenatal supplementation programme.

Vitamin D, sometimes referred to as the 'sunshine vitamin' helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet making it vital for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. As well as causing bone softness and weakness, vitamin D deficiency in newborn infants can lead to serious life-threatening complications such as seizures, serious heart conditions and, rarely, death in the first months of life. With very few dietary sources of vitamin D, supplementation programmes are in place to ensure adequate vitamin D consumption in high risk groups which include pregnant women and children.

This latest study, led by experts at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women's and Children's NHS Foundation Trust, analysed vitamin D levels on 3000 dry blood samples, collected via a heel prick in the first week of life as part of the national Newborn Blood Spot screening programme. Samples were strategically collected at the end of summer and winter to capture the peak and trough in vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels were analysed alongside ethnicity, gestational age, maternal age and also deprivation indices. Proportion of babies with deficient, insufficient and sufficient levels of vitamin D based on season of birth and ethnicity were evaluated.

The majority of newborn's tested were white British (59.1%) and born at term. Vitamin D deficiency was present in 35% of the cohort. The results also demonstrate significant seasonal differences with 52.6% of winter-born babies being vitamin D deficient compared with 18.4% of summer-born babies. Nearly a quarter of babies tested (24%) were from areas with high levels of social deprivation.

Perhaps most significant is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency between ethnic groups. Compared to white British babies, concentrations of the vitamin were much lower in babies of Black, Asian and mixed races as well as non-British white babies. Overall, across both seasons nearly half of the babies from Asian and black ethnic backgrounds were found to be deficient in vitamin D (47.7% and 47.4%, respectively) compared with 30.3% of white British babies. Across the entire multi-ethnic cohort, nearly 70% of the babies had a low vitamin D status, meaning that two thirds of the babies tested were either deficient or had insufficient levels.

Lead author Dr Suma Uday from the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Women's and Children's hospital said: "Vitamin D deficiency is common in all babies born in the UK, especially in winter months. The high proportion of dark-skinned infants with low vitamin D status, demonstrates potential failings of the UK's national antenatal supplementation programme in protecting these ethnic groups, who are well recognised to be at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency. We need to work on improving the disconnect between provision and uptake of vitamins in high risk-groups like expectant mothers from BAME backgrounds."

Senior author Professor Wolfgang Högler from the University of Birmingham's Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research said: "Our findings suggest that vitamin D supplementation programmes could be much improved if they were delivered and monitored like immunisation programmes. Much easier and more effective would be food fortification with vitamin D - an approach that we have seen to be successful in other high latitude countries, such as Finland"
-end-
The paper, 'Failure of national antenatal vitamin D supplementation programme puts dark skinned infants at highest risk: A newborn bloodspot screening study' was published online in Clinical Nutrition.

University of Birmingham

Related Vitamin Articles from Brightsurf:

Vitamin C's effectiveness against COVID may hinge on vitamin's natural transporter levels
High doses of vitamin C under study for treating COVID-19 may benefit some populations, but investigators exploring its potential in aging say key factors in effectiveness include levels of the natural transporter needed to get the vitamin inside cells.

Vitamin B6, leukemia's deadly addiction
Researchers from CSHL and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have discovered how Acute Myeloid Leukemia is addicted to vitamin B6.

Fatty foods necessary for vitamin E absorption, but not right away
A fresh look at how to best determine dietary guidelines for vitamin E has produced a surprising new finding: Though the vitamin is fat soluble, you don't have to consume fat along with it for the body to absorb it.

Vitamin D: How much is too much of a good thing?
A three-year study by researchers at the Cumming School of Medicine's McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), showed there is no benefit in taking high doses of vitamin D.

10 million new cases of vitamin D deficiency will be prevented by adding vitamin D to wheat flour
Adding vitamin D to wheat flour would prevent 10 million new cases of vitamin D deficiency in England and Wales over the next 90 years, say researchers at the University of Birmingham.

Muscling in on the role of vitamin D
A recent study conducted at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research has shed light on the role of vitamin D in muscle cells.

Vitamin D may not help your heart
While previous research has suggested a link between low levels of vitamin D in the blood and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, a new Michigan State University study has found that taking vitamin D supplements did not reduce that risk.

Does sunscreen compromise vitamin D levels?
Sunscreen can reduce the sun's adverse effects, but there are concerns that it might inhibit the body's production of vitamin D.

How obesity affects vitamin D metabolism
A new Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study confirms that vitamin D supplementation is less effective in the presence of obesity, and it uncovers a biological mechanism to explain this observation.

Why vitamin E effect is often a matter of luck until now
Vitamin E's positive effects often fail to manifest themselves as strongly as expected, but sometimes administering vitamin E actually has detrimental effects.

Read More: Vitamin News and Vitamin Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.