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Logo of archdischArchives of Disease in ChildhoodVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
 
Arch Dis Child. 2007 December; 92(12): 1088–1093.
Published online 2007 September 3. doi:  10.1136/adc.2006.112813
PMCID: PMC2066069

High prevalence of asymptomatic vitamin D and iron deficiency in East African immigrant children and adolescents living in a temperate climate

Abstract

Objectives

Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is common in immigrant children with increased skin pigmentation living in higher latitudes. We assessed the pattern of and risk factors for VDD in immigrant East African children living in Melbourne (latitude 37°49′ South).

Study design

A prospective survey of 232 East African children attending a clinic in Melbourne. Data were collected by questionnaire, medical assessment and laboratory tests.

Results

Low 25‐hydroxyvitamin D (25‐OHD) levels (<50 nmol/l) occurred in 87% of children, and VDD (25‐OHD <25 nmol/l) in 44%. Risk factors included age <5 years, female gender, increased time in Australia, decreased daylight exposure and winter/spring season. Anaemia (20%), vitamin A deficiency (20%) and iron deficiency (19%) were also identified.

Conclusions

Asymptomatic VDD is common in East African immigrant children residing at a temperate latitude. Risk factors for VDD limit endogenous vitamin D production. Screening of immigrant children with increased skin pigmentation for VDD, anaemia, iron and vitamin A deficiency is appropriate. VDD in adolescent females identifies an increased risk of future infants with VDD.


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