Baby boy stunted due to vitamin D deficiency

Hanoi7-year-old boy, weighing 21 kg, nearly two kg lighter than the standard, 119 cm tall – 2.7 cm lower than the standard; Micronutrient tests showed severe vitamin D deficiency.

The baby was taken to Medlatec General Hospital for examination on April 27 due to excessive sweating of the hands and feet, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping in the past month. The doctors checked the baby’s respiratory function, heart and lungs were within normal limits, but the weight and height were short compared to the growth standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The results of micronutrient testing showed that the baby’s vitamin D index was 17.10 ng/ml, meaning severe deficiency. Normally, a sufficient vitamin D index is 30 ng/ml or more. The baby was diagnosed with growth retardation due to vitamin D deficiency, outpatient treatment, and at the same time, the doctor consulted on nutrition and care to overcome malnutrition in height.

The family said that the baby was born normally, had normal motor functions, and sometimes had pain in the limbs but was often ignored. Before going back to school, the baby stayed at home for many months, rarely going out. It is unusual that for more than a month now, although the weather is cool, she sweats a lot on her hands and feet.

Doctor Tran Thi Kim Ngoc, specialist in pediatrics, said many people know the role of vitamin D is to create bone structure. However, this substance also has many other important roles such as participating in the process of cell division, secretion and metabolism of hormones, including parathyroid hormone and insulin. Vitamin D can also affect the differentiation of some cancer cells such as skin, bone and breast cancer cells; reduce the risk of developing cancer (breast, colon and prostate), regulate the homeostasis of calcium and phosphorus in the body.

In addition, during the Covid-19 epidemic, studies show that vitamin D not only strengthens the innate immune system, but also helps the immune system not to overreact (cytokine storm phenomenon). The human body is in danger of death.

Research results at the National Children’s Hospital showed that the rate of vitamin D deficiency in children was 23.9%. In particular, the age of 6-15 is an important period for children’s development, especially growth in height and bone mineralization. In particular, this is also considered the last stage for children to develop the best physical breakthrough. Therefore, nutrition at this stage is very important.

Early signs of vitamin D deficiency in children are fussiness, trouble sleeping, restless sleep, or startling due to nervous stimulation; profuse night sweats, even in cold weather (thick sweats); retardation of physical development, decreased muscle tone (muscle flabby), pale skin…

Groups at risk of severe vitamin D deficiency such as premature babies, children not exposed to sunlight (born in winter); children whose diets are mainly based on vegetables and nuts, do not use milk or foods fortified with vitamin D; children with infectious diseases (respiratory infections, measles, prolonged digestive disorders…).

The WHO recommendation is that children under one year of age need 400 IU of vitamin D per day, children aged one year and older and people under 50 years of age 600 IU per day, people aged 50 years and older, and pregnant or lactating women. Breastfeeding needs 800 IU of vitamin D a day.

Vitamin D provides the body mainly with vitamin D3 synthesis in the skin, accounting for about 90-95%. A secondary source of vitamin D is from food, about 5-10%. Parents need to supplement this substance for their children by sunbathing and nutrition. In case the child is isolated, the family needs to open the window so that the house can be ventilated, and let the child play as much as possible in a sunny place. In addition, the meal should have a variety of foods rich in vitamin D such as: fresh fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, full cream yogurt, beef liver and duck meat.

Thuy Quynh


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