Tragically, newborns sometimes suffer heart failure, and until lately physicians had not considered vitamin D deficiency as a possible cause. However, in a study conducted in southeast England, sixteen infants were identified that had suffered heart failure and low blood calcium between 2000 and 2006. Six were of Indian and ten of African ethnicity (dark skinned people do not make vitamin D efficiently).
Six of these unfortunate children suffered cardiac arrest, three died, eight were placed on lung machines, and two were referred for heart transplants. Can you imagine an innocent baby needing a heart transplant because his/her mother was severely deficient and passed that deficiency to the child? The average serum vitamin D level was only 7.4 ng/ml (50-60 is optimal), and some of the infants had undetectable levels.
Hypocalcaemia is usually caused by insufficient vitamin D in the blood and often results in convulsions and death. But the care givers had not even tried to assure that vitamin D levels were adequate. The researchers concluded with this statement: “Vitamin D deficiency and consequent hypocalcaemia are seen in association with severe and life-threatening infant heart failure. That no infant or mother was receiving the recommended vitamin supplementation highlights the need for adequate provision of vitamin D to ethnic minority populations."
Obviously, a few dollars worth of vitamin D or a lot of summer sunshine or tanning bed use could have prevented this catastrophe. At least the word is getting out.
 Maiya, S. et al. Hypocalcaemia and vitamin D deficiency: an important, but preventable cause of life-threatening heart failure. Heart 2008;94:581-84