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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among children aged 1 month to 16 years in Hangzhou, China

Zhiwei Zhu1, Jianying Zhan1, Jie Shao1, Weijun Chen1, Liqin Chen2, Wenhao Li1, Chai Ji1 and Zhengyan Zhao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Health Care, Children's Hospital Affiliated to Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China

2 Department of Central laboratory, Children's Hospital Affiliated to Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:126  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-126

Published: 14 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Recent studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency in children is widespread. But the vitamin D status of Chinese children is seldom investigated. The objective of the present study was to survey the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in more than 6,000 children aged 1 month to 16 years in Hangzhou (latitude: 30°N), the capital of Zhejiang Province, southeast China.

Methods

The children aged 1 month to 16 years who came to the child health care department of our hospital, the children's hospital affiliated to Zhejiang university school of medicine, for health examination were taken blood for 25(OH) D measurement. Serum 25(OH) D levels were determined by direct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and categorized as < 25, < 50, and < 75 nmol/L.

Results

A total of 6,008 children aged 1 month to 16 years participated in this cross-sectional study. All the subjects were divided into subgroups according to their age: 0-1y, 2-5y, 6-11y and 12-16y representing infancy, preschool, school age and adolescence stages respectively. The highest mean level of serum 25(OH)D was found in the 0-1y stage (99 nmol/L) and the lowest one was found in 12-16y stage (52 nmol/L). Accordingly, the prevalence of serum 25(OH)D levels of < 75 nmol/L and < 50 nmol/L were at the lowest among infants (33.6% and 5.4% respectively) and rose to the highest among adolescents (89.6% and 46.4% respectively). The mean levels of serum 25(OH)D and the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency changed according to seasons. In winter and spring, more than 50% of school age children and adolescents had a 25(OH)D level at < 50 nmol/L. If the threshold is changed to < 75 nmol/L, all of the adolescents (100%) had low 25(OH)D levels in winter and 93.7% school age children as well.

Conclusions

The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among children in Hangzhou Zhejiang province is high, especially among children aged 6-16 years. We suggest that the recommendation for vitamin D supplementation in Chinese children should be extended to adolescence.