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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.
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.
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