Context: Low vitamin D levels in adulthood have been associated with cardiovascular disease.
Objective: To investigate if low vitamin D levels in childhood are related with increased carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) in adulthood.
Design, setting, and participants: The analyses included 2148 subjects from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, aged 3-18 years at baseline (in 1980). Subjects were re-examined at age 30-45 years (in 2007). Childhood levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D were measured from stored serum in 2010.
Main outcome measure: The carotid artery IMT from 2007 was used.
Results: When adjusted for age, sex, and childhood risk factors, continuous data of childhood 25-OH vitamin was inversely associated with adulthood carotid IMT levels among females (β ± SE -0.006 ± 0.003, P = 0.03), but not among males (0.001 ± 0.004, P = 0.88). Children with 25-OH vitamin D levels in the lowest quartile (<40 nmol/L) had significantly increased odds of having high-risk IMT (highest decile of common carotid or carotid bulb IMT or carotid plaque) as adults, in analyses adjusted for age, sex and either childhood risk factors (odds ratio 1.70 [95 % CI 1.15-2.31], P = 0.0007) or adult risk factors, including adult vitamin D levels (odds ratio 1.80 [1.30-2.48], P = 0.0004). In sex-specific analyses, these associations were significant both in females and males (P always <0.05). In sensitivity analyses, those with childhood vitamin D levels in the lowest quintile (<37 nmol/L), gave similar results to those using a quartile cut-point.
Conclusions: Low 25-OH vitamin D levels in childhood were associated with increased carotid IMT in adulthood.