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Among the battery of diagnostics provided to newborns, vitamin D testing may be among the most important, according to a new study published in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.
A team of investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital found that newborns with low levels of the nutrient are much more likely to develop severe respiratory infections and have chronic wheezing later in childhood.
The findings may indicate that vitamin D levels play a more important role in the development of the immune system than previously thought. In recent years, researchers have found that many individuals in all parts of the U.S. have low levels of the nutrient, suggesting that higher levels of diagnosis and treatment may be necessary, particularly when the health of newborns is at stake.
"Acute respiratory infections are a major health problem in children,” said Carlos Camargo, who led the study. “For example, bronchiolitis - a viral illness that affects small airway passages in the lungs - is the leading cause of hospitalization in U.S. infants."
He added that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy may help women prevent their children from being born with dangerously low levels of the nutrient.
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