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Vitamin D may play a role in reducing allergy risk of babies

September 8, 2015

A new study from Australia suggests a role for vitamin D in reducing the risk of allergies during immune development through a reduction in the inflammatory response.

The observational study measured the blood vitamin D concentrations of 225 babies with a high risk for allergies, born to mothers with atopic dermatitis, right at birth and at six months of age (1). The study results showed that babys with a vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml or higher had lower inflammatory responses to dust mites by six months of age, compared to those born with levels of 20 ng/ml or lower. Infants with a vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml or higher had a significantly reduced risk of developing eczema at both six months and one year of age.

The researchers commented that improving vitamin D status in pregnancy or early infancy may reduce the development of allergic disease in high risk infants by inhibiting proteins that are important in cell signaling (cytokines) and are associated with allergy. Outside of bone health, little is known for certain how vitamin D influences development during infancy. The presence of vitamin D receptors on immune cells has led researchers to evaluate the importance for maintaining healthy vitamin D levels in a multitude of immune-related conditions, including allergies. When a person is allergic to a certain food or pollen, the body initiates an inflammatory response upon contact with the allergen. This response signals the body to fight off these allergens, even though they are not necessarily harmful or dangerous.

References

  1. Jones A. et al. 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 status is associated with developing adaptive and innate immune responses in the first 6 months of life. Clinical and Experimental Allergy. Published online November 2014.