Maternal and cord blood vitamin D status and childhood infection and allergic disease: a systematic review

Nutr Rev. 2016 Jun;74(6):387-410. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuv108. Epub 2016 Apr 15.


Context: It is unclear how in utero vitamin D deficiency affects the extraskeletal health of children, despite the known risks for adverse pregnancy/birth outcomes.

Objective: This systematic review seeks to assess the effect of in utero vitamin D exposure on childhood allergy and infection outcomes using the PRISMA guidelines.

Data sources: MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases were searched.

Study selection: Literature published through April 2015 was searched for studies reporting on the association between maternal pregnancy or cord blood vitamin D status and childhood allergy and infection.

Data extraction: Of 4175 articles identified, 43 studies met the inclusion criteria. They examined a wide variety of outcomes, using many different vitamin D cutoff values in their analyses.

Data synthesis: For most outcomes, results were inconsistent, although there appeared to be a protective effect between higher in utero vitamin D status and childhood lower respiratory tract infection (5 of 10 studies).

Conclusions: More research is needed on childhood allergy and infection outcomes, and future studies should standardize outcome reporting, especially with regard to cutoff values for vitamin D concentrations. Evidence of a protective association between in utero vitamin D exposure and lower respiratory tract infection was found, while the other outcomes were either understudied or showed inconsistent results.PROSPERO registration no. CRD42013006156.

Keywords: allergy; epidemiology; infection; pediatrics; pregnancy; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / blood*
  • Infections / blood*
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamins / blood*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D