Maternal and newborn vitamin D status and its impact on food allergy development in the German LINA cohort study

Allergy. 2013 Feb;68(2):220-8. doi: 10.1111/all.12081. Epub 2012 Dec 18.


Background: Vitamin D levels are known to be associated with atopic disease development; however, existing data are controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate whether corresponding maternal and cord blood vitamin D levels are associated with atopic outcomes in early infancy.

Methods: Within the LINA cohort study (Lifestyle and environmental factors and their Influence on Newborns Allergy risk), 25(OH)D was measured in blood samples of 378 mother-child pairs during pregnancy and at birth. Information about children's atopic manifestations during the first 2 years of life was obtained from questionnaires filled out by the parents during pregnancy and annually thereafter. Cord blood regulatory T cells (Treg) were detected by methylation-specific PCR using a Treg-specific demethylated region in the FOXP3 gene.

Results: The median maternal 25(OH)D(3) level was 22.19 ng/ml (IQR 14.40-31.19 ng/ml); the median cord blood 25(OH)D(3) 10.95 ng/ml (6.99-17.39 ng/ml). A high correlation was seen between maternal and cord blood 25(OH)D(3) levels, both showing a seasonal distribution. Maternal and cord blood 25(OH)D(3) was positively associated with children's risk for food allergy within the first 2 years. Further, higher maternal 25(OH)D(3) resulted in a higher risk for sensitization against food allergens at the age of two. Cord blood 25(OH)D(3) levels were negatively correlated with regulatory T cell numbers.

Conclusion: Our study demonstrates that high vitamin D levels in pregnancy and at birth may contribute to a higher risk for food allergy and therefore argues against vitamin D supplement to protect against allergy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / physiopathology
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / metabolism
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / blood*


  • Vitamin D
  • Immunoglobulin E