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Ital J Pediatr. 2013 Jun 4;39:35. doi: 10.1186/1824-7288-39-35.

Vitamin D status in cord blood and newborns: ethnic differences.

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  • 1Division of Pediatrics, Department of Health Sciences, University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy.



A deficiency in vitamin D (25OHD) is common throughout the world in both adults and children, being related to skin pigmentation, sun exposure, dietary intake and obesity. Limited data are available for the neonatal age. The aim of the study is to understand the differences in 25OHD levels with respect to skin colour and ethnicity in newborns.


We randomly enrolled 62 neonates, born at term and appropriate for gestational age. Thirty two were born from Italian mothers with fair skin (FS) and 30 from non-Caucasian mothers (North African, African, Asian and Latin American): 10 with light olive/light brown (LOB) and 20 with medium brown/black skin (MBB). Vitamin D was measured in the cord blood at birth and in neonatal serum during metabolic screening.


25OHD levels were (mean ± SD) 21.4 ± 11 ng/ml in cord blood and 14.9 ± 7 ng/ml in serum after birth. 25OHD values were higher in cord blood (p < 0.01) and neonatal serum (p < 0.001) in subjects supplemented with Vitamin D. Newborn FS showed higher vitamin D levels in cord blood when compared to LOB and MBB (p < 0.01), and higher levels in neonatal serum when compared to LOB (p < 0.01). In cord blood, 25OHD levels were higher in Italian newborns than in North African (p < 0.004) and African (p < 0.01). In neonatal serum, 25OHD levels were higher in Italian infants only when compared with North African infants (p < 0.03).


The present study shows a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in newborns with significant differences observed to be due to ethnicity, skin colour and maternal supplementation during the pregnancy.

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