21 Aug Low Vitamin D in Childhood Associated with Behavioral Problems in Adolescence
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Eduardo Villamor, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H.
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Vitamin D deficiency has been related to adverse mental health outcomes, including depression and schizophrenia, in adults. Some studies have suggested a potential role of vitamin D status prenatally on other neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood. However, few studies had extended into adolescence which is the life period when certain mental health issues that predict disease later in life, namely behavioral problems, first appear.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Children who had vitamin D deficiency according to blood levels when they were in elementary school, scored higher on tests that detect behavioral problems in adolescence, compared to children who did not have vitamin D deficiency.
The specific problems for which they scored higher involved externalizing behavior, which refers to aggressiveness and a tendency to break rules. Vitamin D-deficient children also had higher scores in some tests of anxious/depressed behavior compared to their non-deficient peers.
Childhood blood levels of the protein that transports vitamin D in blood were also related to behavior problems in adolescence, in generally comparable ways as vitamin D was.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: While we cannot say that vitamin D deficiency causes behavior problems from this study, it is possible that exposure to adverse environmental conditions during elementary school years (“middle childhood”), in this case involving the vitamin D system, play a role in neurodevelopment through adolescence.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: It would be very helpful to see whether these results hold in other populations. This would be a first step to eventually consider intervention studies to determine whether improving the vitamin D status of children results in better neurodevelopmental outcomes. At this stage, however, it may be premature to call for such intervention studies.
Sonia L Robinson, Constanza Marín, Henry Oliveros, Mercedes Mora-Plazas, Betsy Lozoff, Eduardo Villamor. Vitamin D Deficiency in Middle Childhood Is Related to Behavior Problems in Adolescence. The Journal of Nutrition, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxz185
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Last Updated on August 21, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD