No proven link between vitamin D deficiency and latent TB in young children: Indonesian study

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Despite previous studies linking vitamin D deficiency to TB, no strong evidence of this was found in young children. ©iStock
Despite previous studies linking vitamin D deficiency to TB, no strong evidence of this was found in young children. ©iStock
A recent Indonesian study has found no significant association between vitamin D deficiency and latent tuberculosis (TB) in children aged one to five, despite previous assertions to the contrary.

The cross-sectional study, conducted by Universitas Andalas and Universitas Indonesia, assessed 168 children under the age of five, all of whom had had close contact with adult TB patients in their households. Tuberculin skin tests (TSTs) and blood samples were used to determine the presence of latent TB and vitamin D status in each child.

40.5% of the subjects were found to have latent TB, while 23.3% were vitamin D-deficient. 43.5% had vitamin D insufficiency, and the rest had sufficient levels of vitamin D. The study observed that those with latent TB were more likely to be malnourished, with 52.5% suffering from malnutrition, compared to 47.5% of those without latent TB being malnourished.

The study stated that while “latent TB was particularly prevalent in the three- to five-years age group (43.4%)”​, it had discovered that the “status of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency had no significant influence on the incidence of latent TB”​.

Five-fold increase

However, age appeared to be a factor in the association.  According to the study, “significant difference in serum vitamin D between groups was observed”​ in children below the age of one, but not in those aged one to five years old.

Previous studies had indicated that serum vitamin D was associated with TB, with one paper finding a five-fold increased risk for progression to TB for those with low levels. 

However, in this study, the researchers concluded: "We did not find any evidence that serum vitamin D had association with the incidence of latent TB in under-five children with a history of close TB contact. Nevertheless, it may be considered in children <1 year old, albeit the fact that the potential causes of the incidence of latent TB are multifactorial. Studies with a  larger sample size are required for providing additional evidence regarding the effect of serum vitamin D status on TB, particularly in under-five children."

Source: Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Volume 26, supplement 1

“Vitamin D status in under-five children with a history of close tuberculosis contact in Padang, West Sumatra”

Authors: Finny Fitry Yani, et al.

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