Baltimore, MD—Vitamin D deficiency from birth to early childhood is associated with an increased risk of elevated blood pressure in later childhood and adolescence, according to research published in the American Heart Association journalHypertension.

Researchers followed 775 children from birth to age 18,according to a press release.Most lived in a low-income area; 68% of the children were African American. Low vitamin D levels were defined as less than 11 nanograms/millimeter in cord blood at birth, and less than 25ng/ml in the child’s blood during early childhood.

Children born with low levels of vitamin D, compared to children with adequate vitamin D levels, according to the press release:
  • Had a 60% higher risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 6 and 18
  • Had double the risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 3 and 18
“Currently, there are no recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen all pregnant women and young children for vitamin D levels,” said Guoying Wang, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Our findings raise the possibility that screening and treatment of vitamin D deficiency with supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood might be an effective approach to reduce high blood pressure later in life.”

In the press release, Wang added that an “optimal” vitamin D level during pregnancy and early childhood has not yet been defined, and that this study needs to be replicated on large populations.