Background: Osteopenia and osteoporosis are commonly seen in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Vitamin D deficiency potentially contributes to diminished bone acquisition in childhood.
Objectives: The objectives of this study were to assess vitamin D in a group of Australian children with IBD and to ascertain associations between vitamin D status and key clinical factors, for example disease location and severity.
Methods: Data were obtained retrospectively from the records of children with IBD who had at least one measurement of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) over a two-year period. Demographic variables, disease activity, inflammatory markers, disease location, duration, and therapy were recorded. Moderate and severe deficiency were defined as 25(OH)D <51 nmol/l and <30 nmol/l, respectively. Insufficiency was defined as 25(OH)D between 51 and 75 nmol/l.
Results: Overall, the mean 25(OH)D level in 78 children (104 measurements) was 71.2 (SD ± 26.5) nmol/l. Fifteen (19%) children were vitamin D deficient and 30 (38%) children were insufficient. Levels of 25(OH)D were not associated with disease location or use of immunosuppressive drugs. Children with vitamin D deficiency had greater corticosteroid exposure than those with normal status (P = 0.001). The mean 25(OH)D of 38 children treated with nutritional therapy at diagnosis was higher than for 17 children initially treated with corticosteroids (P = 0.04).
Conclusions: A high proportion of these Australian children with IBD were vitamin D deficient. This emphasizes the importance of monitoring vitamin D status, and treating deficiency, in the management of pediatric IBD. The possible benefit of nutritional therapy in protection against vitamin D deficiency requires further prospective study.