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      Vitamin D and respiratory tract infections in childhood

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          Abstract

          Background

          Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) remain among of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality among children. Several studies have associated vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of RTIs, and vitamin D supplementation has been proposed as a possible preventive measure against RTIs in children. The main aim of this review is to summarize the current evidence from the literature about the link between vitamin D and RTIs in children.

          Discussion

          Several recent studies have shown that vitamin D has different immunomodulatory properties associated with the risk of RTIs in childhood. In this regard, it is very important to understand the definition of deficiency and insufficiency of vitamin D and when and how to treat this condition. Unfortunately, there is no consensus, although a level of at least 10 ng/mL 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25[OH]D) is thought to be necessary to promote bone mineralization and calcium homeostasis, and a concentration between 20 ng/mL and 50 ng/mL is considered adequate to provide an immunomodulatory effect. Available data support a role for vitamin D deficiency in the risk of pediatric tuberculosis, recurrent acute otitis media, and severe bronchiolitis, whereas further studies are needed to confirm an association in children with recurrent pharyngotonsillitis, acute rhinosinusitis and community-acquired pneumonia.

          Conclusions

          Maintenance of adequate vitamin D status may be an effective and inexpensive prophylactic method against some RTIs, but the supplementation regimen has not been clearly defined. Further clinical trials are needed to determine the 25(OH)D concentrations associated with an increased risk of RTIs and optimal vitamin D supplementation regimen according to the type of RTI while also taking into consideration vitamin D receptor polymorphisms.

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          Most cited references 112

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          WHO estimates of the causes of death in children.

          Child survival efforts can be effective only if they are based on accurate information about causes of deaths. Here, we report on a 4-year effort by WHO to improve the accuracy of this information. WHO established the external Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) in 2001 to develop estimates of the proportion of deaths in children younger than age 5 years attributable to pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles, and the major causes of death in the first 28 days of life. Various methods, including single-cause and multi-cause proportionate mortality models, were used. The role of undernutrition as an underlying cause of death was estimated in collaboration with CHERG. In 2000-03, six causes accounted for 73% of the 10.6 million yearly deaths in children younger than age 5 years: pneumonia (19%), diarrhoea (18%), malaria (8%), neonatal pneumonia or sepsis (10%), preterm delivery (10%), and asphyxia at birth (8%). The four communicable disease categories account for more than half (54%) of all child deaths. The greatest communicable disease killers are similar in all WHO regions with the exception of malaria; 94% of global deaths attributable to this disease occur in the Africa region. Undernutrition is an underlying cause of 53% of all deaths in children younger than age 5 years. Achievement of the millennium development goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds from the 1990 rate will depend on renewed efforts to prevent and control pneumonia, diarrhoea, and undernutrition in all WHO regions, and malaria in the Africa region. In all regions, deaths in the neonatal period, primarily due to preterm delivery, sepsis or pneumonia, and birth asphyxia should also be addressed. These estimates of the causes of child deaths should be used to guide public-health policies and programmes.
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            Resurrection of vitamin D deficiency and rickets.

            The epidemic scourge of rickets in the 19th century was caused by vitamin D deficiency due to inadequate sun exposure and resulted in growth retardation, muscle weakness, skeletal deformities, hypocalcemia, tetany, and seizures. The encouragement of sensible sun exposure and the fortification of milk with vitamin D resulted in almost complete eradication of the disease. Vitamin D (where D represents D2 or D3) is biologically inert and metabolized in the liver to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the major circulating form of vitamin D that is used to determine vitamin D status. 25(OH)D is activated in the kidneys to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], which regulates calcium, phosphorus, and bone metabolism. Vitamin D deficiency has again become an epidemic in children, and rickets has become a global health issue. In addition to vitamin D deficiency, calcium deficiency and acquired and inherited disorders of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus metabolism cause rickets. This review summarizes the role of vitamin D in the prevention of rickets and its importance in the overall health and welfare of infants and children.
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              From vitamin D to hormone D: fundamentals of the vitamin D endocrine system essential for good health.

              New knowledge of the biological and clinical importance of the steroid hormone 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3)] and its receptor, the vitamin D receptor (VDR), has resulted in significant contributions to good bone health. However, worldwide reports have highlighted a variety of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency diseases. Despite many publications and scientific meetings reporting advances in vitamin D science, a disturbing realization is growing that the newer scientific and clinical knowledge is not being translated into better human health. Over the past several decades, the biological sphere of influence of vitamin D(3), as defined by the tissue distribution of the VDR, has broadened at least 9-fold from the target organs required for calcium homeostasis (intestine, bone, kidney, and parathyroid). Now, research has shown that the pluripotent steroid hormone 1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) initiates the physiologic responses of >/=36 cell types that possess the VDR. In addition to the kidney's endocrine production of circulating 1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3,) researchers have found a paracrine production of this steroid hormone in >/=10 extrarenal organs. This article identifies the fundamentals of the vitamin D endocrine system, including its potential for contributions to good health in 5 physiologic arenas in which investigators have clearly documented new biological actions of 1alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) through the VDR. As a consequence, the nutritional guidelines for vitamin D(3) intake (defined by serum hydroxyvitamin D(3) concentrations) should be reevaluated, taking into account the contributions to good health that all 36 VDR target organs can provide.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +39-02-55032498 , susanna.esposito@unimi.it
                mara.lelii87@gmail.com
                Journal
                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infect. Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central (London )
                1471-2334
                28 October 2015
                28 October 2015
                2015
                : 15
                Affiliations
                Pediatric Highly Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano, Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Commenda 9, 20122 Milan, Italy
                Article
                1196
                10.1186/s12879-015-1196-1
                4628332
                26521023
                © Esposito and Lelii. 2015

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                © The Author(s) 2015

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