Vitamin D has no benefit for severe asthma attacks

Vitamin D supplements do not prevent severe asthma attacks in at-risk children, results from the first placebo-controlled clinical trial show.

Study lead author Professor Juan Carlos Celedón, chief of pediatric pulmonary medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh said the findings were important because some clinicians are currently testing vitamin D levels of children with asthma and prescribing supplements, based on results of observational studies.

“As a system, it costs a lot of money to run all these tests and give the supplements. We’ve shown no benefit for children with moderately low vitamin D levels,” he said.

The Vitamin-D-Kids Asthma (VDKA) Study involved nearly 200 school aged children with asthma who were taking  fluticasone propionate (6-11 years old: 176 μg/d; 12-16 years old 220 μg/d) and had serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 30 ng/mL.

Participants were  randomised to receive 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day or placebo for 48 weeks.

At the end of the study 36 participants (37.5%) in the vitamin D3 group and 33 (34.4%) in the placebo group had 1 or more severe exacerbations.

Vitamin D3 supplementation also did not significantly improve the time to a viral-induced severe exacerbation, the proportion of participants whose dose of inhaled corticosteroid was reduced, or the cumulative fluticasone dose during the trial, reported the study authors in JAMA.

They noted that the results could not be attributed to failure to achieve vitamin D sufficiency after vitamin D3 supplementation because most (>87%) of the participants in the treatment group had vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL or greater during the trial.

“The findings do not support the use of vitamin D3 supplementation to prevent severe asthma exacerbations in this group of patients,” they concluded.

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