School of Paediatrics and Child Health

Anderson Jones


Anderson Jones

School of Paediatrics & Child Health
The University of Western Australia
Princess Margaret Hospital for Children
PO Box D 184, Subiaco
WA 6840

Phone (+61) 9340 8606
Fax (+61) 9388 2097


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Anderson Jones


The effect of Vitamin D status in pregnancy and infancy on the developing immune system


Allergic conditions such as asthma, eczema and food allergy are the most common chronic disorders of childhood. As many as 40% of Australians will suffer from allergic disease during their life, affecting quality of life, placing burden on families and even being life threatening. Unfortunately, the prevalence of allergic disease has been increasing in most countries globally in recent decades, and reports indicate that allergies are presenting in children at younger and younger ages. This trend of early presentation indicates that the early life environment and exposures are relevant to the development of allergic disease.

Many factors have been implicated in the development of allergic disease, including exposure to tobacco smoke, changes in the microbial environment, and vitamin D exposure. Observational studies find higher rates of disease in areas with lower sun exposure, and many report lower vitamin D levels in patients with asthma and eczema compared to healthy controls. Additionally, vitamin D is now recognised to play an important role in immune regulation and may inhibit inflammatory responses.  

The aim of this study is to investigate whether vitamin D status in pregnancy and infancy influences immune function and subsequent risk of allergic disease. We will also be examining whether supplementing infants with vitamin D in the first 6 months of month has beneficial effects in terms of immune development. This will be assessed through multiple methods, firstly through analysis of vitamin D status and clinical outcomes in existing allergy research cohorts, and secondly through a randomised control trial of infant vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels will be assessed in mothers antenatally, in umbilical cord blood, and at multiple time points during infancy, with samples of circulating immune cells obtained from blood samples for analysis of relative proportions of cell subtypes and functional capacity (cytokine production). Immune function may then be assessed in relation to vitamin D status and supplementation. 

Why my research is important

While multiple observational studies have reported an association between vitamin D exposure and risk of allergic disease, there is insufficient longitudinal data from this critical period of development, particularly in relation to vitamin D supplementation. The current studies will provide unique information on both clinical and functional outcomes in a prospective, controlled design.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award


School of Paediatrics and Child Health

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Last updated:
Monday, 1 September, 2014 3:12 PM