The researchers found 54 percent of these newborns had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Among these infants, 18 (12 percent) developed RSV in the first year of life.
In fact, infants with low levels of vitamin D were six times more likely to develop RSV, compared with infants who had the highest levels, Bont's group found.
Among the women in the study, only 46 percent said they took supplements containing vitamin D while they were pregnant, the researchers noted.
Bont thinks all pregnant women should be taking vitamin D supplements. In general, they should be getting 400 to 1,000 International Units (IU) a day, he said.
In the study, Bont and other researchers explained that some pregnant women might need up to 4,000 IU a day to achieve the best outcome for their infants. (Experts who make up the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommend that pregnant women get at least 600 IU of vitamin D daily and note that they can safely take up to 4,000 IU a day, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements.)
The cost of prenatal vitamins, which contain vitamin D, is about $9 a month.
What the researchers have shown in this study is an association between vitamin D and preventing RSV. To establish a cause-and-effect relationship, Bont said that randomized trials are needed.
Dr. Andrew Colin, director of the division of pediatric pulmonology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said this finding could "save the world a humongous amount of money."
Colin noted the recognition of the link between low vitamin D levels and lung diseases has been growing over the years. This is particularly true for asthma. In fact, the increase in the number of asthma cases can, in part, be attributed to low vitamin D levels, he said.
"RSV is a worldwide scourge," Colin said. "Probably the most si
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