Purpose of review: To give an overview of the recent research into whether a lack of vitamin D contributes to the development of atopy and asthma in childhood.
Recent findings: I describe here the recent epidemiological studies relating vitamin D status to atopy and asthma in children, focusing on determinants of major asthma phenotypes in childhood. Recent findings include the observations that vitamin D levels are inversely associated with degree of corticosteroid use, worsening airflow limitation and increased exacerbations among asthmatics. Low vitamin D has been associated with atopy and asthma in children and adolescents in a community cohort, predominantly in boys, with vitamin D at age 6 predicting these outcomes at 14. I also detail the mechanistic studies examining relevant vitamin D-regulated processes; recent findings include the demonstration that offspring of mice with vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy show reduced lung volume and function.
Summary: The current literature suggests that intervention to ensure adequate vitamin D levels during both pregnancy and childhood may reduce the development of atopy and asthma in children. However, important questions need to be answered regarding the levels of vitamin D required, which may vary between the sexes and between individuals, and the optimal timing and duration of such intervention.