Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with food allergy in infants

Published Online March 1, 2013

Epidemiological evidence has shown pediatric food allergy is more prevalent in regions further from the Equator (which have lower ambient ultraviolet radiation), suggesting vitamin D insufficiency may play a role in this disease. However, the relationship between vitamin D and food allergy has not previously been investigated using direct serological measurements of vitamin D status.

In research published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Allen et al measured serum vitamin D levels in infants participating in the population-based HealthNuts food allergy study. This is the largest study to objectively ascertain food sensitization status in an entire population-based sample, to use gold-standard measure of food allergy status of all sensitized infants, and to explore directly the association between serum vitamin D levels and challenge-proven food allergy status adjusting for a wide range of potential confounders.

Infants of Australian–born parents with vitamin D insufficiency were three times more likely to have egg allergy and eleven times more likely to have peanut allergy, the odds increasing to ten-fold among those with two or more food allergies. Furthermore, among food sensitized infants, those with vitamin D insufficiency were six times more likely to be food allergic than tolerant.  

This study provides the first direct evidence that vitamin D sufficiency may be an important protective factor for food allergy in the first year of life. This finding supports a need for randomized controlled trials stratified by genetic, racial, or migratory status to determine whether correction of vitamin D status either prevents infantile food allergy or promotes the development of tolerance in food-allergic infants.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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