To determine the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young Nigerian children residing in an area where nutritional rickets is common.
A randomized cluster sample of children aged 6 to 35 months in Jos, Nigeria.
Of 218 children evaluated, no child in the study had a 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) concentration <10 ng/mL (the generally held definition of vitamin D deficiency). Children spent an average of 8.3 hours per day outside of the home. Twenty children (9.2%) had clinical findings of rickets. Children with clinical signs of rickets were more likely to be not currently breast fed and have significantly lower serum calcium concentrations than those without signs of rickets (9.1 vs 9.4 mg/dL, respectively, P =.01). Yet, 25-OHD levels were not significantly different between those children with clinical signs of rickets and those without such clinical signs.
Vitamin D deficiency was not found in this population of young children in whom clinical rickets is common. This is consistent with the hypothesis that dietary calcium insufficiency, without preexisting vitamin D deficiency, accounts for the development of clinical rickets in Nigerian children.