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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Nov;120(5):1031-5. Epub 2007 Oct 24.

Is vitamin D deficiency to blame for the asthma epidemic?

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  • 1Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. augusto.litonjua@channing.harvard.edu

Abstract

In the 1960s, the prevalence of asthma and allergic diseases began to increase worldwide. Currently, the burden of the disease is more than 300 million people affected. We hypothesize that as populations grow more prosperous, more time is spent indoors, and there is less exposure to sunlight, leading to decreased cutaneous vitamin D production. Coupled with inadequate intake from foods and supplements, this then leads to vitamin D deficiency, particularly in pregnant women, resulting in more asthma and allergy in their offspring. Vitamin D has been linked to immune system and lung development in utero, and our epidemiologic studies show that higher vitamin D intake by pregnant mothers reduces asthma risk by as much as 40% in children 3 to 5 years old. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with obesity, African American race (particularly in urban, inner-city settings), and recent immigrants to westernized countries, thus reflecting the epidemiologic patterns observed in the asthma epidemic. Providing adequate vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy may lead to significant decreases in asthma incidence in young children.

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PMID:
17919705
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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