Asthma Worse for Children with Low Vitamin D
Asthma symptoms may be worse for children with low levels of vitamin D. In a first study that included 600 children from Costa Rica, researchers found that Vitamin D supplements might reduce the frequency of hospitalizations and medication use among vitamin D deficient children with asthma.
Juan Celedón, M.D., Dr. P.H. and Augusto Litonjua, M.D., M.P.H. of Harvard Medical School enrolled 616 children from Costa Rica for the study, an area with a high prevalence of asthma. They tested the children’s lung function, and performed skin sensitivity tests for allergens, and performed general blood for allergy sensitivity. The researchers also measured Vitamin D levels, finding an inverse association between vitamin D levels and asthma severity.
The study also found that children with asthmas and low vitamin D levels used more inhaled corticosteroids, were hospitalized more, and had several markers indicative of allergy.
The authors “suspect that giving vitamin D supplements to asthma patients who are deficient may help with their asthma control.” Dr. Celedón suggests including the added benefits of vitamin D among the current recommendations for bone health and osteoporosis prevention – previous in vitro studies have shown that low vitamin D levels might worsen asthma.
Vitamin D synthesis relies on sun exposure. Although vitamin D can be obtained from foods, spending time indoors, wearing sunscreen, lack of dietary intake of fish and vitamin D fortified foods can promote vitamin D deficiency.
The new study shows that asthma is worse for children with low levels of vitamin D. More research is needed to establish optimal levels of vitamin D for use in children with severe asthma and vitamin D deficiency.