The vitamin D connection to pediatric infections and immune function

Pediatr Res. 2009 May;65(5 Pt 2):106R-113R. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e31819dba91.


Over the past 20 y, a resurgence in vitamin D deficiency and nutritional rickets has been reported throughout the world, including the United States. Inadequate serum vitamin D concentrations have also been associated with complications from other health problems, including tuberculosis, cancer (prostate, breast, and colon), multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. These findings support the concept of vitamin D possessing important pleiotropic actions outside of calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. In children, an association of nutritional rickets with respiratory compromise has long been recognized. Recent epidemiologic studies clearly demonstrate the link between vitamin D deficiency and the increased incidence of respiratory infections. Further research has also elucidated the contribution of vitamin D in the host defense response to infection. However, the mechanism(s) by which vitamin D levels contribute to pediatric infections and immune function has yet to be determined. This knowledge is particularly relevant and timely, because infants and children seem more susceptible to viral rather than bacterial infections in the face of vitamin D deficiency. The connection among vitamin D, infections, and immune function in the pediatric population indicates a possible role for vitamin D supplementation in potential interventions and adjuvant therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Infections / complications*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology


  • Vitamin D