- Vitamin D deficiency from birth to early childhood was associated with an increased risk of elevated systolic blood pressure during childhood and adolescence.
- The study findings suggest that vitamin D screening and supplementation in pregnancy and early childhood could prevent or reduce the risk of elevated blood pressure later in life.
Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT / 5 a.m. ET Monday, July 1, 2019
DALLAS, July 1, 2019 — Vitamin D deficiency from birth to early childhood was associated with an increased risk of elevated blood pressure in later childhood and adolescence, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Researchers followed 775 children from birth to age 18 at the Boston Medical Center. Most lived in a low-income, urban area and 68% of the children were African American. Low vitamin D levels were defined as less than 11 ng/ml (nanograms per millimeter) in cord blood at birth and less than 25 ng/ml in a child’s blood during early childhood.
Compared to children who were born with adequate vitamin D levels:
- Children born with low levels of vitamin D had an approximately 60% higher risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 6 and 18;
- Children who had persistently low levels of vitamin D through early childhood had double the risk of elevated systolic blood pressure between ages 3 and 18.
Systolic refers to the first or top number in a blood pressure reading. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats. High systolic blood pressure readings increase the risk of cardiovascular disease even when diastolic blood pressure, the second number in a blood pressure reading, is controlled.
“Currently, there are no recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to screen all pregnant women and young children for vitamin D levels. 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,” said Guoying Wang, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author and an assistant scientist at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland.
Wang added that what constitutes optimal circulating vitamin D levels during pregnancy and early childhood remains an active research question, and that their study results need to be replicated in other large populations.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium for strong bones. It is made by our bodies when we are exposed to sunlight and found in a few foods, such as eggs, salmon and fortified milk products. It is also available as a vitamin supplement.
High blood pressure is a leading, preventable cause of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Along with an increase in obesity among children, the prevalence of high blood pressure in children has been on the rise in recent years, especially among African American children. High blood pressure in childhood is an important risk factor for having high blood pressure and developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood.
Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The Children’s Health Study is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Available multimedia located on the right column of the release link: https://newsroom.heart.org/news/low-vitamin-d-at-birth-raises-risk-of-higher-blood-pressure-in-kids?preview=1b40db1eddec54029345094d6838acad
- Vitamin Supplements: Hype or Help for Healthy Eating?
- After July 1, 2019 view the manuscript online.
- View this release in Spanish.
- Follow AHA/ASA news on Twitter @HeartNews
Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available athttps://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
For Media Inquiries and AHA/ASA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173
Darcy Spitz: 212-878-5940, email@example.com
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)