Craniotabes in normal newborns: the earliest sign of subclinical vitamin D deficiency

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 May;93(5):1784-8. doi: 10.1210/jc.2007-2254. Epub 2008 Feb 12.


Context: Craniotabes in otherwise normal neonates has been regarded as physiological and left untreated.

Objective: Our objective was to investigate the role of vitamin D deficiency in the development of craniotabes in normal neonates.

Design and setting: Newborn screening of craniotabes was conducted at the single largest obstetrical facility in Kyoto, Japan. Follow-up study at 1 month was conducted at Kyoto University Hospital.

Subjects: A total of 1120 consecutive normal Japanese neonates born in May, 2006, through April, 2007, were included in the study.

Main outcome measures: The incidence of craniotabes was scored each month. Neonates with craniotabes were followed up at 1 month with measurements of serum calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), intact PTH, 25-OH vitamin D (25-OHD), urinary calcium, phosphorus, creatinine, and hand x-rays.

Results: Craniotabes was present in 246 (22.0%) neonates, and the incidence had obvious seasonal variations, highest in April-May and lowest in November. At 1 month, infants with craniotabes had significantly higher serum ALP compared with normal neonates; 6.9% of them had elevated intact PTH over 60 pg/ml, and 37.3% had 25-OHD less than 10 ng/ml. When separately analyzed according to the method of feeding, 56.9% of breast-fed infants showed 25-OHD less than 10 ng/ml, whereas none of formula/mixed-fed infants did, and breast-fed infants had significantly higher serum PTH and ALP compared with formula/mixed-fed infants.

Summary: These results suggest that craniotabes in normal neonates is associated with vitamin D deficiency in utero, and the deficiency persists at 1 month in many of them, especially when breast-fed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Calcium / blood
  • Calcium / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Skull*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis*


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Calcium