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CMAJ. 2005 Mar 15;172(6):757-61.

Vitamin D deficiency and whole-body and femur bone mass relative to weight in healthy newborns.

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  • 1Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Man. hweiler@cc.umanitoba.ca



Vitamin D is required for normal bone growth and mineralization. We sought to determine whether vitamin D deficiency at birth is associated with bone mineral content (BMC) of Canadian infants.


We measured plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] as an indicator of vitamin D status in 50 healthy mothers and their newborn term infants. In the infants, anthropometry and lumbar, femur and whole-body BMC were measured within 15 days of delivery. Mothers completed a 24-hour recall and 3-day food and supplement record. We categorized the vitamin D status of mothers and infants as deficient or adequate and then compared infant bone mass in these groups using nonpaired t tests. Maternal and infant variables known to be related to bone mass were tested for their relation to BMC using backward stepwise regression analysis.


Twenty-three (46%) of the mothers and 18 (36%) of the infants had a plasma 25(OH)D concentration consistent with deficiency. Infants who were vitamin D deficient were larger at birth and follow-up. Absolute lumbar spine, femur and whole-body BMC were not different between infants with adequate vitamin D and those who were deficient, despite larger body size in the latter group. In the regression analysis, higher whole-body BMC was associated with greater gestational age and weight at birth as well as higher infant plasma 25(OH)D.


A high rate of vitamin D deficiency was observed among women and their newborn infants. Among infants, vitamin D deficiency was associated with greater weight and length but lower bone mass relative to body weight. Whether a return to normal vitamin D status, achieved through supplements or fortified infant formula, can reset the trajectory for acquisition of BMC requires investigation.

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