Scientific article
Open access

Hypovitaminosis D in migrant children in Switzerland: a retrospective study

Published inEuropean journal of pediatrics, vol. 180, no. 8, p. 2637-2644
Publication date2021-08
First online date2021-06-15

Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is essentially known for its role in the phosphocalcic metabolism and its associated pathologies, such as rickets. In Switzerland, 35 to 50% of children are vitamin D deficient. Due to skin colour, poor nutrition, living conditions and cultural practices, migrant population is particularly at risk. Our aim is to attest the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in children arriving in Switzerland. We retrospectively assessed 528 children's vitamin D status and parathyroid hormone, phosphate and calcium levels between 2015 and 2018 by electrochemiluminescence and spectrophotometry. Cholecalciferol was considered insufficient under 50 nmol/L and severely deficient below 25 nmol/L. Seventy-three percent of children showed hypovitaminosis D and 28% had a severe deficiency. Highest prevalence of deficiency was found in children from Eastern Mediterranean (80%) and African regions (75%). Severe deficiency was more prevalent in the South East Asian (39%) and Eastern Mediterranean regions (33%) and more frequent in females. Deficiency was more frequent and more severe in winter. Hypovitaminosis D increased with age. Two children presented with all three biological manifestations associated to severe hypovitaminosis D (hyperparathyroidism, hypocalcaemia and hypophosphatemia).Conclusion: A majority of migrant children presented with hypovitaminosis D. They should be supplemented to prevent complications. A strategy could be to supplement all children at arrival and during wintertime without regular vitamin D level checks. What is Known: Hypovitaminosis D is frequent in children and can lead to bone-related complications. Migrant children are particularly at risk of deficiency. What is New: Three-quarters of migrant children evaluated at our migrant clinic in Geneva's children hospital are deficient in vitamin D, one third severely. A strategy to correct the deficiency would be to supplement all migrant children at arrival and in winter.

  • Children
  • Hypovitaminosis D
  • Migrant
  • Refugee
  • Supplementation
  • Vitamin D
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rickets / epidemiology
  • Rickets / etiology
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Transients and Migrants
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
Citation (ISO format)
FAHRNI, Olivia et al. Hypovitaminosis D in migrant children in Switzerland: a retrospective study. In: European journal of pediatrics, 2021, vol. 180, n° 8, p. 2637–2644. doi: 10.1007/s00431-021-04143-7
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ISSN of the journal0340-6199

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