Original Article

Prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in school going children of eastern Nepal: a cross-sectional study

Seraj Ahmed Khan1, Bishnu Pokharel2, Tarakant Bhagat3, Bishal Raj Joshi4, Suman Sapkota5, Bijaya Mishra1, Madhab Lamsal1

1Department of Biochemistry, B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
2Department of Orthopedics, B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
3Department of Community Dentistry, B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Dharan, Nepal
4Department of Biochemistry, Nobel Medical College, Biratnagar, Nepal
5Lumbinin Anchal Hospital, Butwal, Nepal


Background: Hypovitaminosis D is globally prevalent, yet it is the most under-diagnosed and under-treated nutritional deficiencies around the world. As a result, hypovitaminosis D is reported as a common health issue in children and adolescents worldwide. Thus, we aim to determine the vitamin D status in school going children and its association with covariates.
Methods: This population-based cross-sectional study was carried out in children of public schools. Data on socio-demographic characteristics and dietary habits were gathered and blood samples were analyzed for serum 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D) and total calcium. Based on serum 25(OH)D level, a value <30 ng/ml was considered as hypovitaminosis D. Student t-test, one-way post hoc ANOVA, Chi-square test, and Pearson?s correlation were used to determine the association of parameters in various groups. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of related risk factors with hypovitaminosis D.
Results: A total of 181 students, aged 7-15 years were included, out of which 101 were male and 80 were female. The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D in the students was 72.4%. Multiple linear regression analysis shows higher age (p<0.001), lower BMI (p = 0.002), lower calcium (p<0.001), and fewer outdoor games were independently associated with low serum 25(OH) D levels. The odds of being hypovitaminosis D was seven times more in female as compared to male participants.
Conclusions: The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D was 72.4% and females were more affected than males. The study highlights the vulnerability of school children to hypovitaminosis D and warrants the need for its prevention and cure.

Keywords: calcium, children, hypovitaminosis D, vitamin D