High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes

Swiss Med Wkly. 2010 Sep 3:140:w13091. doi: 10.4414/smw.2010.13091. eCollection 2010.


Background: Vitamin D is important for bone health. An inadequate supply of vitamin D to the body is associated with a higher fracture risk in the elderly. Young adults with type 1 diabetes are reported to have a lower peak bone mass than healthy individuals, which could possibly lead to an increased fracture risk in the future. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in healthy young people is high. Thus, optimal supply of vitamin D may be of particular importance for bone health in children with type 1 diabetes.

Methods: In this prospective cross-sectional study we measured serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, iPTH, total and ionised calcium, phosphate, and alkaline phosphatase in 129 Swiss children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

Results: Of the 129 subjects 78 (60.5%) were vitamin D deficient, defined as a 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D level below 50 nmol/L. During the winter this number rose to 84.1%. 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D levels showed marked seasonal fluctuations, whereas there was no correlation with diabetes control. Despite the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, we found a low prevalence of secondary hyperparathyroidism in vitamin D deficient diabetic children and adolescents.

Conclusions: Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in diabetic children and adolescents is high. Therefore, screening for vitamin D deficiency and supplementation in children with low vitamin D levels may be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Calcium / blood
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / blood
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Phosphates
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Calcium