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The good old ways

Do you remember when babies used to be exposed to sunshine in the back yard or in parks?  They were so happy lying there on a soft bunny rug soaking up the sun’s rays.  But then the sun became dangerous and babies were kept indoors and well covered when outside.  The result?  The return of Rickets – a disease of the bones due to low Vitamin D, and it now seems also allergies.

Sunshine is our main source of Vitamin D.  There is no denying that irresponsible sun exposure can be dangerous, however, there are times of day when sunshine is good for us:  mornings and afternoons.

Researchers are now finding further implications in childrens’ health resulting from low Vitamin D levels:

In a study of 5000 children, researchers from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute found that one-year-olds with vitamin D deficiency were three times more likely to have a food allergy than those whose levels were sufficient. Children with two or more allergies were 10 times more likely to have vitamin D deficiency, according to the study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Background: Epidemiological evidence has shown that pediatric food allergy is more prevalent in regions further from the equator, suggesting that vitamin D insufficiency may play a role in this disease.

Objective: To investigate the role of vitamin D status in infantile food allergy.

Methods: A population sample of 5276 one-year-old infants underwent skin prick testing to peanut, egg, sesame, and cow’s milk or shrimp. All those with a detectable wheal and a random sample of participants with negative skin prick test results attended a hospital-based food challenge clinic. Blood samples were available for 577 infants (344 with challenge-proven food allergy, 74 sensitized but tolerant to food challenge, 159 negative on skin prick test and food challenge). Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured by using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry. Associations between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and food allergy were examined by using multiple logistic regression, adjusting for potential risk and confounding factors.

Results: Infants of Australian-born parents, but not of parents born overseas, with vitamin D insufficiency (≤50 nmol/L) were more likely to be peanut (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 11.51; 95% CI, 2.01-65.79; P = .006) and/or egg (aOR, 3.79; 95% CI, 1.19-12.08; P = .025) allergic than were those with adequate vitamin D levels independent of eczema status. Among those with Australian-born parents, infants with vitamin D insufficiency were more likely to have multiple food allergies (≥2) rather than a single food allergy (aOR, 10.48; 95% CI, 1.60-68.61 vs aOR, 1.82; 95% CI, 0.38-8.77, respectively).

Conclusions: These results provide the first direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life.

The first year of a child’s life is so very important in determining its health for the remainder of its life.  An incredible concept, but so true.  Here we are only looking at Vitamin D and sunshine, but what a child is exposed to in its first 12 months can made all the difference later on.