Vitamin D deficiency in childhood: old lessons and current challenges

J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Mar 28;31(3):247-260. doi: 10.1515/jpem-2017-0391.


Hypovitaminosis D in childhood is a re-emerging public health problem in developed countries. New life style habits, current "epidemics" of obesity in children and adolescents worldwide, and other preventable risk factors may play a role in favoring the occurrence of vitamin D deficiency. In addition to skeletal consequences, hypovitaminosis D has been found to be involved in the development of serious health extra-skeletal problems in childhood, including atopy and autoimmunity. The increasing concerns about the global health impact of vitamin D deficiency make further research necessary to fill the gaps of knowledge in this field, and particularly to establish universally accepted "normal" serum 25(OH)D levels in the pediatric population, and to improve strategies for the screening, prevention and treatment of hypovitaminosis D. This review discusses the key points of hypovitaminosis D in childhood in the light of new knowledge, and highlights the limitations of current strategies to control this condition.

Keywords: children; extra-skeletal manifestations; hypovitaminosis D; newborns; rickets; screening; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bone Diseases / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology
  • Developed Countries
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food
  • Nutritional Status
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Reference Values
  • Rickets / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacokinetics
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / diagnosis
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / prevention & control


  • Vitamin D
  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D