Article ID: EJ18-0008
There is concern that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent among children in Japan as well as worldwide. We conducted a nationwide epidemiologic survey of symptomatic vitamin D deficiency to observe its incidence rate among Japanese children. A questionnaire inquiring the number of new patients with vitamin D deficiency rickets and/or hypocalcemia for 3 years was sent to 855 randomly selected hospitals with a pediatrics department in Japan. In this survey, we found that 250 children were diagnosed with symptomatic vitamin D deficiency. The estimated number of patients with symptomatic vitamin D deficiency per year was 183 (95% confidence interval (CI): 145–222). The overall annual incidence rate among children under 15 years of age was 1.1 per 100,000 population (95% CI: 0.9–1.4). The second survey has provided detailed information on 89 patients with symptomatic vitamin D deficiency under 5 years of age in hospitals in the current research group. The nationwide and second surveys estimated the overall annual incidence rate of symptomatic vitamin D deficiency in children under 5 years of age to be 3.5 (2.7–4.2) per 100,000 population. The second survey revealed 83% had bowed legs, 88% had exclusive breastfeeding, 49% had a restricted and/or unbalanced diet and 31% had insufficient sun exposure among the 89 patients. This is the first nationwide survey on definitive clinical vitamin D deficiency in children in Japan. Elucidating the frequency and characteristics of symptomatic vitamin D deficiency among children is useful to develop preventative public health strategies.