Latitude, Sunlight, Vitamin D, and Childhood Food Allergy/Anaphylaxis

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Vitamin D is widely known for its role in bone metabolism, but this sterol hormone also has important immunomodulatory properties. Vitamin D is produced by the conversion of D3 in the skin following UVB exposure, or after ingestion of D2 or D3. At the extremes of latitude, there is insufficient UVB intensity in the autumn and winter months for adequate synthesis of vitamin D to occur. Growing evidence implicates vitamin D deficiency in early life in the pathogenesis of nonskeletal disorders (e. g., type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis) and, more recently, atopic disorders. Several studies have reported higher rates of food allergy/anaphylaxis or proxy measures at higher absolute latitudes. Although causality remains to be determined, these studies suggest a possible role for sunlight and/or vitamin D in the pathogenesis of food allergy/anaphylaxis.

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Dr. Mullins has received unrestricted investigator-initiated grants from Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Australia and Alphapharm Australia, Abbott Nutrition Australia, and the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation.

Dr. Camargo has received investigator-initiated research grants from and served as a consultant for Dey Pharma and Sanofi-Aventis. Study sponsors had no input into the contents of this article.

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Correspondence to Raymond James Mullins.

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Mullins, R.J., Camargo, C.A. Latitude, Sunlight, Vitamin D, and Childhood Food Allergy/Anaphylaxis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 12, 64–71 (2012).

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  • Food allergy
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Children
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D
  • Pathogenesis
  • Latitude