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New study finds no relationship between vitamin D and respiratory failure in critically ill patients

Posted on: February 24, 2014   by  Vitamin D Council


New research published in the journal Annals of Intensive Care has found that among patients with sepsis or trauma, vitamin D is not related to risk of respiratory failure but is related to one-year mortality.

Patients admitted to ICUs with sepsis or trauma are at high risk for acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ALI is an injury to the lungs characterized by things like low levels of oxygen in the blood and fluid in the lungs. ARDS is a severe condition caused by an injury or infection in the lungs. It is characterized by inflammation in the lungs and gas exchange not functioning properly.

Past research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is common among critically ill patients in the ICU. However, no research has looked at whether low vitamin D levels might be related to ALI or ARDS.

Therefore, researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville set out to determine if there is a relationship.

The researchers studied participants who are currently enrolled in the Validating Acute Lung Injury biomarkers for Diagnosis (VALID) study. The VALID study started in 2006 to look at 2,500 critically ill patients at high-risk for ALI and ARDS over time.

Within this VALID cohort, researchers studied four different groups of people:

  • People with sepsis and with ALI and ARDS.
  • People with sepsis without ALI and ARDS.
  • Trauma patients with ALI and ARDS.
  • Trauma patient without ALI and ARDS.

The researchers wanted to know if having ALI and ARDS was associated with vitamin D deficiency.

What they found was that there was no correlation between vitamin D deficiency and ALI and ARDS, whether you had sepsis or trauma. There was no difference in mean vitamin D levels in any of the groups.

“This case-control study of 478 patients with sepsis or trauma showed no association between lower [vitamin D] levels and development of ALI/ARDS in stringently matched cases and controls,” the researchers concluded.

The researchers did, however, find a correlation between vitamin D and risk of mortality. For those in the trauma groups, lower vitamin D levels were associated with an increased risk of mortality after one year.


Barnett, N. et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of acute lung injury in severe sepsis and severe trauma: a case-control study. Annals of Intensive Care, 2014.

1 Response to New study finds no relationship between vitamin D and respiratory failure in critically ill patients

  1. [email protected]

    Please note that the study did not include patients who were likely to have low levels of vitamin D for a long time.
    The study excluded those with “a history of severe chronic lung disease.”

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