Vitamin D Deficiency in Critically Ill Children

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

James Dayre McNally; Nassr Nama; Katie O'Hearn; Margaret Sampson; Karin Amrein; Klevis Iliriani; Lauralyn McIntyre; Dean Fergusson; Kusum Menon


Crit Care. 2017;21(287) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) has been hypothesized not only to be common but also to represent a potentially modifiable risk factor for greater illness severity and clinical outcome during critical illness. The objective of this systematic review was to determine the frequency of VDD in pediatric critical illness and its association with clinical outcomes.

Methods MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRAL were searched through December 12, 2016, with no date or language restrictions. The primary objective was to estimate the prevalence of VDD in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and compare vitamin D status with healthy control populations. Secondary objectives were to evaluate whether VDD is associated with mortality, increased illness severity, PICU interventions, and patient clinical course. Random effects meta-analysis was used to calculate pooled VDD event rate, compare levels with those of control subjects, and evaluate for associations between VDD and clinical outcome.

Results Among 2700 citations, 17 studies meeting study eligibility were identified. The studies reported a total of 2783 critically ill children and had a median sample size of 120 (range 12–511). The majority of studies used a 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level less than 50 nmol/L to define VDD, and the pooled VDD prevalence was 54.8 (95% CI 45.4–63.9). Average 25(OH)D levels were significantly lower in PICU patients than in healthy control subjects (pooled difference −17.3 nmol/L, 95% CI −14.0 to −20.6). In a meta-analysis calculation, we found that VDD was associated with increased mortality (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.11–2.36), illness severity, and need for PICU interventions.

Conclusions Approximately 50% of critically ill children have VDD at the time of PICU admission, defined as a blood total 25(OH)D concentration under 50 nmol/L. VDD was further determined to be associated with greater illness severity, multiple organ dysfunction, and mortality in the PICU setting. Clinical trials are required to determine if optimization of vitamin D status improves patient outcome.