Vitamin D deficiency and acute lower respiratory infections in children younger than 5 years: identification and treatment

J Pediatr Health Care. 2014 Nov-Dec;28(6):572-82; quiz 583-4. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2014.08.013. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Introduction: Acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) is a leading cause of childhood mortality. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency (VDD) puts children at risk for ALRI. The purpose of this review is to examine ALRI and VDD in children 5 years and younger. Common etiologies, diagnosis, prevention, treatment of ALRI, and recommendations for vitamin D supplementation are summarized.

Method: Databases were searched for studies investigating VDD and ALRI in children. Independent reviewers assessed the internal validity of the studies.

Results: Of 18 studies examined, VDD was found to be associated with increased risk or severity of ALRI in 13 studies; associations were not found in 4 studies. In one study it was found that high maternal vitamin D levels was associated with ALRI in infants.

Discussion: Vitamin D supplementation is a low-cost, low-risk intervention that providers should consider for children, especially those at high risk for ALRI. Practitioners should follow current recommendations when prescribing vitamin D supplementation for infants and children.

Keywords: Vitamin D; acute lower respiratory infection; bronchiolitis; pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchiolitis / diagnosis
  • Bronchiolitis / drug therapy
  • Bronchiolitis / etiology
  • Bronchiolitis / physiopathology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology*


  • Vitamin D