Low Vitamin D at Birth, May Contribute to RSV Infections

Researchers in the Netherlands have found a potential link between low levels of vitamin D, at birth, and increased risk of RSV lung infections.

Mirjam E. Belderbos, MD, and colleagues at the Utrecht University Medical Center, analysed the cord blood of 156 infants and recorded their vitamin D levels.  They then followed the infants through their first year and found that children who had been born with low levels of vitamin D were six times more likely to have suffered an RSV lung infection by their first birthday.

RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) is the leading cause of lung infections in the first year of life.  It leads to bronchiolitis (inflamed airways), and pneumonia.

“We demonstrated that 54 percent of healthy newborns in the Netherlands are born with insufficient (vitamin D) concentrations required for maximum health, and that low plasma concentrations of (vitamin D) are associated with increased risk of RSV lower-respiratory tract infections in the first year of life,” the report, published May 9th in ‘Pediatrics’ online, states.

Other risks associated with low vitamin D include soft bones, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia and infant wheeze.

The human body’s production of vitamin D is triggered by exposure to direct sunlight.  It is, therefore, not surprising that Belderbos’ study found infants born in July to have the highest levels of vitamin D and infants born in December to have the lowest levels.

The study suggests three possible reasons for the correlation between vitamin D and RSV infection

  • Vitamin D plays a role in the development of the fetal and infant immune system
  • Vitamin D may accelerate early lung development
  • Vitamin D has antimicrobial properties

Belderbos and her colleagues have called for clinical trials to test the effects of vitamin D supplementation, through pregnancy, to protect infants against RSV infection. – Jen R, Staff Writer

Related Articles:



About the author

Jen R

Jen R should have been a spy; she would have been really great at it. Instead, she has found limitless happiness raising a future international man of mystery. She is a writer, a maker of suppers, a kisser of boo boos and a finder of lost things. She would always prefer to watch politics than sports and will never watch a soap opera...ever.

Leave a Comment