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Public Health Nutr. 2014 Jul;17(7):1547-54. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013001328. Epub 2013 May 24.

Non-Western immigrant children have lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D than children from Western families.

Author information

1Department of Nutritional Sciences,University of Toronto,Toronto,ON,Canada.
3Department of Pediatrics,University of Toronto,Toronto,ON,Canada.
4Department of Pediatric Medicine and the Pediatric Outcomes Research Team,The Hospital for Sick Children,Toronto,ON,Canada.
7Keenan Research Centre,Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute,St. Michael's Hospital,Toronto,ON,Canada.

Erratum in

  • Public Health Nutr. 2014 Jul;17(7):1668.



To determine if children aged 1-6 years from non-Western immigrant families have lower serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels than children from Western-born families and examine which factors influence this relationship.


Cross-sectional study.


Toronto, Canada.


Healthy children (n 1540) recruited through the TARGet Kids! practice-based research network. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations of non-Western immigrants were compared with those of children from Western-born families. Children from non-Western immigrant families were defined as those born, or their parents were born, outside a Western country. Univariate and multiple linear regression analyses were used to identify factors which might influence this relationship.


Median age was 36 months, 51 % were male, 86 % had 'light' skin pigmentation, 55 % took vitamin D supplements, mean cow's milk intake was 1·8 cups/d and 27 % were non-Western immigrants. Median serum 25(OH)D concentration was 83 nmol/l, with 5 % having 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l. Univariable analysis revealed that non-Western immigrant children had serum 25(OH)D lower by 4 (95 % CI 1·3, 8·0) nmol/l (P = 0·006) and increased odds of 25(OH)D < 50 nmol/l (OR = 1·9; 95 % CI 1·3, 2·9). After adjustment for known vitamin D determinants the observed difference attenuated to 0·04 (95 % CI -4·8, 4·8) nmol/l (P = 0·99), with higher cow's milk intake (P < 0·0001), vitamin D supplementation (P < 0·0001), summer season (P = 0·008) and increased age (P = 0·04) being statistically significant covariates. Vitamin D supplementation was the strongest explanatory factor of the observed difference.


There is an association between non-Western immigration and lower 25(OH)D in early childhood. This difference appears related to known vitamin D determinants, primarily vitamin D supplementation, representing opportunities for intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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