The ViDiKids clinical trial began as a study to investigate whether weekly supplementation with Vitamin D, often known as the “sunshine vitamin,” could prevent tuberculosis (TB) infection and enhance growth and development in primary school children. Research has found that low levels of Vitamin D, which are common in Cape Town populations, are linked to increased susceptibility to TB.
Research has suggested a possible link between Vitamin D consumption and an increased immune response to TB infection. The DTHF partnered with Queen Mary University in England to conduct the ViDiKids study, a three-year trial funded by the UK MEdical Research Council that started in April 2016. As part of the study, 5,400 schoolchildren (aged 6 to 11) in Philippi, Crossroads, Gugulethu and Mitchells Plain who test negative for TB receive a weekly dose of either 0.25mg of Vitamin D or a placebo. After the trial is over, the team will compare the rates of infection in the Vitamin D and placebo groups and determine whether Vitamin D helped block TB.
If Vitamin D proves to be effective in reducing new TB infections, the study may pioneer a revolutionary new approach to TB control not just in South Africa, but worldwide.