Vitamin D May Cut Child Diabetes Risk

29% Less Type 1 Diabetes in Infants Getting Vitamin D

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on March 12, 2008

March 12, 2008 -- Infants who get vitamin D supplements have a lower risk of getting type 1 diabetes, a small study suggests.

The study was not a clinical trial. Researchers Christos S. Zipitis, MBChB, of NHS Foundation Trust, and Anthony K. Akobeng, MBChB, combined data from five studies that looked for differences between kids who got type 1 diabetes and kids who did not.

The combined data suggest that giving infants vitamin D supplements cuts their risk of type 1 diabetes by 29%.

It's not clear how vitamin D might fight diabetes. However, Zipitis and Akobeng note that insulin-making beta cells in the pancreas are sensitive to vitamin D.

Moreover, the body makes vitamin D in response to sunlight on the skin. The researchers note that infants in wintry Finland are 400 times more likely than a child in sunny Venezuela to have childhood diabetes.

The researchers note that randomized clinical trials will be needed to determine whether vitamin D truly helps prevent diabetes.

Pediatricians already recommend vitamin D supplements for children to prevent rickets. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all infants, including those who are exclusively breastfed, have a minimum intake of 200 IU of vitamin D per day during the first two months of life. After that, daily intake of 200 IU of vitamin D per day is recommended throughout childhood and adolescence.

Zipitis and Akobeng report their findings in the online edition of Archives of Diseases in Childhood.

Show Sources


Zipitis, C.S. and Akobeng, A.K. Archives of Diseases in Childhood, online edition, 2008.

Gartner, L.M. Pediatrics, April 2003; vol 111: pp 908-910.

© 2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. View privacy policy and trust info