CHICAGO, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) – Vitamin D deficiency in middle childhood could result in aggressive behavior as well as anxious and depressive moods during adolescence, according to a study posted on the University of Michigan (UM) website on Tuesday.
In 2006, UM researchers recruited 3,202 children aged 5-12 years into a cohort study in Bogota, Colombia, through a random selection from primary public schools.
The researchers obtained information on children's daily habits, maternal education level, weight and height, as well as household food insecurity and socioeconomic status. Researchers also took blood samples.
After about six years, when children were 11-18 years old, investigators conducted in-person follow-up interviews in a random group of one-third of participants, assessing children's behavior through questionnaires administered to children themselves. and their parents. The vitamin D analyzes included 273 of those participants.
Researchers found that children with blood vitamin D levels suggestive of deficiency were almost twice as likely to develop externalizing behavior problems: aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors, as reported by their parents, compared to children who had higher vitamin D levels.
Also, low levels of protein that transport vitamin D into the blood are associated with more self-reported aggressive behavior and anxious / depressed symptoms. The associations were independent of child, parental and household characteristics.
"Children who have vitamin D deficiency during their elementary school years have higher scores on tests that measure behavior problems when they reach adolescence," said Eduardo Villamor, a professor of epidemiology at the UM School of Public Health and senior author of the study.
Villamor said vitamin D deficiency has been linked to other mental health problems in adulthood, including depression and schizophrenia.
Researchers acknowledge the study's limitations, including a lack of baseline behavioral measures, but the results indicate the need for additional studies involving neurobehavioral outcomes in other populations where vitamin D deficiency may be a public health problem.
The study has been published in the Journal of Nutrition.