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Study: D deficiency common in critically ill children

Posted on: August 6, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


Two studies published online in Pediatrics found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with more severe, longer lasting illness in children admitted to the hospital.

Dr Dayre McNally, MD, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, and colleagues used data from 2005 to 2008 from 6 different pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in Canada.

The researchers analyzed data from 326 critically ill children up to the age of 17. They found that 69% of patients were vitamin D deficient. Deficiency was associated with increased length of stay in the PICU (P=.03) and increased severity of illness (P=.005).

The second study conducted by Dr Kate Madden, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues examined 511 critically ill patients (median age 5.3 years) admitted to the PICU from November 2009 to November 2010.

The researchers found that 40.1% of patients were vitamin D deficient (<20 ng/mL). After adjusting for confounding variables, deficiency was associated with increased illness severity on the day of admission (P < .0001).

Both studies support similar findings in research with critically ill adults.

McNally calls for further research to determine whether supplementation will improve critically ill children’s outcome, while Madden concludes,

“Given the roles of vitamin D in bone development and immunity, we recommend screening of those critically ill children with risk factors for vitamin D deficiency and implementation of effective repletion strategies.”


Madden K, et al. Vitamin D deficiency in critically ill children. Pediatrics. Aug 6, 2012.

McNally JD, et al. The association of vitamin D status with pediatric critical illness. Pediatrics. Aug 6, 2012.

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