British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Survey and Nutritional Epidemiology

Vitamin D status among immigrant mothers from Pakistan, Turkey and Somalia and their infants attending child health clinics in Norway

Ahmed A. Madara1 c1, Lars C. Stenea2 and Haakon E. Meyera1a2

a1 Institute of General Practice and Community Medicine, University of Oslo, PO Box 1130, Blindern, N-0318 Oslo, Norway

a2 Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway


High prevalences of vitamin D deficiency have been reported in non-Western immigrants moving to Western countries, including Norway, but there is limited information on vitamin D status in infants born to immigrant mothers. We aimed to describe the vitamin D status and potentially correlated factors among infants aged 6 weeks and their mothers with Pakistani, Turkish or Somali background attending child health clinics in Norway. Eighty-six healthy infants and their mothers with immigrant background were recruited at the routine 6-week check-up at nine centres between 2004 and 2006. Venous or capillary blood was collected at the clinics from the mother and infant, and serum separated for analysis of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (s-25(OH)D) and intact parathyroid hormone (s-iPTH). The mean maternal s-25(OH)D was 25·8 nmol/l, with 57 % below 25 nmol/l and 15 % below 12·5 nmol/l. Of the mothers, 26 % had s-iPTH>5·7 pmol/l. For infants, mean s-25(OH)D was 41·7 nmol/l, with 47 % below 25 nmol/l and 34 % below 12·5 nmol/l. s-25(OH)D was considerably lower in the thirty-one exclusively breast-fed infants (mean 11·1 nmol/l; P < 0·0001). Use of vitamin D supplements and education showed a positive association with maternal s-25(OH)D. There was no significant association between mother's and child's s-25(OH)D, and no significant ethnic or seasonal variation in s-25(OH)D for mothers or infants. In conclusion, there is widespread vitamin D deficiency in immigrant mothers and their infants living in Norway. Exclusively breast-fed infants who did not receive vitamin D supplements had particularly severe vitamin D deficiency.

(Received January 08 2008)

(Revised July 14 2008)

(Accepted July 14 2008)

(Online publication September 09 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Ahmed A. Madar, fax +47 22 85 05 90, email


Abbreviations: s-iPTH, serum intact parathyroid hormone; s-25(OH)D, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D