Children with Diabetes May Lack Vitamin D


Kids with type 1 diabetes may be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.

Kids with type 1 diabetes may be at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.

A study published in the May 2016 issue of Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, looked at the association between type 1 diabetes control in children and vitamin D deficiency. Low levels of vitamin D are a predictor of bone health, glucose metabolism, cardiovascular health, immune health and overall survival.

A team led by Sarah Al Sawah, Ph.D., a doctoral student at the time of the study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing in Philadelphia, collected and tested non-fasting blood samples for both vitamin D and blood glucose from 197 children and adolescents recruited during regular follow-up visits from the Diabetes Center for Children at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The team also recorded HbA1c levels and other health indicators from the patients’ medical records.

Out of the study group, 23 percent of the kids were overweight and 13 percent were obese. They found that 40.6 percent had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels under 50 nmol/L, and 49.5 percent had levels between 51 and 75 nmol/L and 10.2 percent had levels over 75 nmol/L.

The team found a high prevalence of patients who had low levels of vitamin D, especially among those with healthy weights, and among Caucasian children and adolescents. In particular, they found low vitamin D levels among kids typically not considered to be at risk for low levels.

"To our knowledge this is the first study that has been adequately-powered to examine the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and HbA1c (a measure of diabetes control) in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes," said Terri Lipman, Ph.D., CRNP, FAAN, Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition, Professor of Nursing of Children, Assistant Dean for Community Engagement. "These data suggest the need for monitoring of vitamin D in all youth with this disorder."

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