Background: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is highly prevalent in Kuwait with incidence of around 40.1/100,000 individuals. Evidence indicate that vitamin D plays an important role in modulating the immune system and could thus impact the onset and high prevalence of T1DM. We report serum vitamin D levels in Kuwaiti children with T1DM and non-diabetic controls to explore its relationship with prevalence and onset of the disease.
Methods: This study included 216 Kuwaiti Arab children with T1DM. The diagnosis of T1DM was based on the ISPAD criteria. The control subjects (204 Kuwaitis) were age and gender matched, healthy, non-diabetic, and had no close relative with T1DM. Vitamin D levels were determined in serum using an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) method.
Results: The age of onset of T1DM was <4y in 20 % of the T1DM cases, between 4 and 6y in 28 % cases and >6y in 52 % patients. In T1DM patient group, 84 % subjects were found to be deficient in serum vitamin D level compared to 77 % of the controls (p = 0.046). Collectively, the deficient and insufficient vitamin D status was detected in 99 % of the T1DM patients compared to 92 % of the controls (p = 0.027). The mean serum vitamin D levels were found to be significantly different in early onset cases (age <4y) compared to the late onset sub-group (p = 0.001). A significant correlation was found between some elements of socioeconomic status, SES (i.e. parent's profession and family's income) and lower vitamin D levels in Kuwaiti T1DM children. There was no significant difference between mean serum vitamin D levels during winter and summer months in the T1DM patients.
Conclusions: The proportion of cases with a deficient vitamin D status was significantly high in Kuwaiti T1DM children compared to the controls. The serum vitamin D levels were found to be significantly different in early onset and late onset T1DM patients. Therefore, serum vitamin D status can be considered an important contributor in high prevalence of T1DM in Kuwaiti children.
Keywords: Deficiency; Kuwait; Type-1 diabetes; Vitamin D.