Vitamin D Newsletter

Newsletter

Vitamin D and infant, children's health

Low Vitamin D levels associated with increased disease severity in childhood Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Childhood SLE is a tragic disease, one of the autoimmune diseases that have risen to epidemic  levels in our children in the last 20 years. Afflicted children develop debilitating kidney, joint, bone, heart, blood, and lung disease; almost all require immunosuppressants (prednisone and hydroxychloroquine) to ward off looming debilitation and death.

Dr. Tracey Wright and colleagues at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found severe Vitamin D deficiency was 5 times more common in SLE children than in controls (37% vs. 9%), that a measure of SLE disease severity was 2.5 times higher in SLE children with Vitamin D deficiency, that 78% of SLE children who were prescribed Vitamin D were still severely deficient (that is, their pediatricians were prescribing insignificant amounts of Vitamin D while telling them—correctly in the case of SLE—to avoid the sun), and serum activated vitamin D levels (calcitriol) were significantly lower in SLE kids than healthy controls. (Tragically, the true believers of the Marshall Protocol—and I know no scientists who are—recommend these children get even less Vitamin D.) The authors concluded, "Vitamin D deficiency may be a modifiable risk factor for morbidity in SLE and represents a target for intervention."

Vitamin D deficient mothers with HIV are more likely to infect their baby

Dr. Saurabh Mehta and colleagues at Harvard discovered higher Vitamin D levels in HIV infected mothers helped prevent fetal death and HIV transmission to the infant. At 24 months of age, toddlers from low maternal 25(OH)D HIV mothers had a 46% increased risk of acquiring HIV  and a 61% increased risk of dying. The authors found an insignificant but disturbing trend for increased infection and mortality in mothers with 25(OH)D levels greater than 70 ng/mL but not enough mothers had such levels to draw any conclusions.

Vitamin D appears to be involved in a rapidly increasing number of infections, from influenza, tuberculosis, bacterial vaginitis, sepsis, the common cold, and now to HIV. When are scientists going to get around to looking at the wintertime killer and crippler of kids, meningitis?

More evidence Vitamin D deficiency is involved in infantile cardiomyopathy

Dr. Jennifer Brown and colleagues at Children's National Medical Center reported on four more babies with life-threatening cardiomyopathy (when the heart swells up and cannot pump blood effectively). All four babies improved dramatically with Vitamin D treatment, including three babies who are now off all cardiac medications (I hope that does not include Vitamin D, which is a crucial cardiac medicine.) and one infant who was taken off the heart transplant list after treatment with Vitamin D.

The problem with the paper was that the authors only looked at infants whose Vitamin D levels were so low that their body could not maintain their blood calcium levels and also had rickets. The authors concluded the cause of the cardiomyopathy in the four infants was low serum calcium. I emailed Dr. Christopher Spurney, the senior author, reminding him that Vitamin D has direct effects on heart muscle cells, above and beyond its effects on calcium, and that he should check Vitamin D levels on all infants with cardiomyopathy and treat those with a low levels, not just rachitic or hypocalcemic infants. He replied that the Children's National Medical Center is now doing just that.

Page last edited: 08 November 2010