Background: A significant increase in vitamin use has been observed in recent years and interactions between vitamins and medications have been reported.
Objective: To determine the frequency and types of potential interactions between vitamins and medications in children arriving at a large tertiary, pediatric emergency department. We also compared family characteristics of children with potential interactions with those of children with no potential interactions, in order to determine children at a higher risk.
Methods: A cross-sectional study in which a survey was conducted of parents/caregivers and/or patients aged 0-18 years registered at a large pediatric emergency department in Canada. A total of 1804 families underwent a face-to-face interview. The main outcome measure was the rate of potential vitamin interactions in the preceding 3 months.
Results: A considerable number of patients (11% of our cohort) had potential vitamin-medication interactions in the preceding 3 months, which could theoretically result in adverse events, and over one-third of these children had more than one potential interaction. Patients with potential interactions and their parents were significantly older (p < 0.001 for the child and mother, p = 0.02 for the father), the children were much more likely to have a chronic illness (p < 0.001) and concurrently receive prescribed or over-the-counter medication (p < 0.001), and more children with potential interactions were completely immunized (p = 0.02). The child's sex, parental education, employment status, family income, and primary language spoken at home were not associated with potential interactions.
Conclusions: Taking into account the high rate of potential vitamin-drug interactions, especially among older children and patients with chronic illness, parents and healthcare providers need to balance the potential benefit of concurrent vitamin-medication use with its potential harms.