Vitamin D has historically been considered to play a role solely in bone and calcium metabolism. Human disease associations and basic physiological studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency is plausibly implicated in adverse health outcomes including mortality, malignancy, cardiovascular disease, immune functioning and glucose metabolism. There is considerable evidence that low maternal levels of 25 hydroxyvitamin D are associated with adverse outcomes for both mother and fetus in pregnancy as well as the neonate and child. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been linked with a number of maternal problems including infertility, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and an increased rate of caesarean section. Likewise, for the child, there is an association with small size, impaired growth and skeletal problems in infancy, neonatal hypocalcaemia and seizures, and an increased risk of HIV transmission. Other childhood disease associations include type 1 diabetes and effects on immune tolerance. The optimal concentration of 25 hydroxyvitamin D is unknown and compounded by difficulties in defining the normal range. Whilst there is suggestive physiological evidence to support a causal role for many of the associations, whether vitamin D deficiency is a marker of poor health or the underlying aetiological problem is unclear. Randomised controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation with an appropriate assessment of a variety of health outcomes are required.
© 2010 Published by Elsevier Ltd.