Vitamin D is essential for bone health and for
cardiovascular and immune function, and in critically ill adults, vitamin D
deficiency is associated with more severe illness. But the prevalence of vitamin
D deficiency and its impact on the health of critically ill children is unknown.
In the study, “Vitamin D Deficiency in Critically Ill Children,” in the
September 2012 issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 6), researchers tested
the 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels of 511 children admitted to the pediatric
intensive care unit over a 12-month period. Results indicated 40 percent of
children had vitamin D deficiency, which is a higher prevalence than in the
general pediatric population. As with adults, lower vitamin D levels were
associated with increased illness severity in children admitted to the intensive
care unit. Previously healthy children had lower vitamin D levels than those
with underlying chronic illnesses, probably because parents of chronically ill
children were more likely to report giving their children vitamin supplements.
Contrary to expectations, researchers did not find that children with infections
had lower vitamin D status than other critically ill children, with the
exception of children who had septic shock. In conclusion, study authors
hypothesize that higher vitamin D levels in children may increase the severity
of critical illness brought on by infection or injury. Study authors recommend
screening critically ill children with risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is
an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical
subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the
health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and
young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.