Screening for vitamin D insufficiency in pediatric cancer survivors

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014 Apr;61(4):723-8. doi: 10.1002/pbc.24844. Epub 2013 Nov 5.


Background: Corticosteroids increase risk for decreased bone mineral density, which can be worsened by vitamin D insufficiency (VDI) or deficiency (VDD).

Procedure: In the Vanderbilt cancer survivorship clinic, we obtained screening total 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels (VDL) in 171 cancer survivors <23 years old who were treated with prolonged corticosteroids for their cancer, and compared this group to a control group of 97 healthy pediatric patients.

Results: VDD was diagnosed in 15.8% and VDI in 34.5% of cancer survivors and VDD/VDI combined was associated with body mass index (BMI) >85th percentile (Odds ratio [OR] = 5.4; P < 0.001), older age (OR = 2.2; P = 0.012), non-Caucasian or Hispanic race (OR = 4.5; P = 0.008) and summer versus winter season (OR = 0.12; P < 0.001). In multivariable analysis, VDI/VDD prevalence did not differ from the control group (VDI/VDD (43.3%)). In the combined survivor/control group multivariable analysis, cancer diagnosis did not increase VDI/VDD risk, but significant associations persisted with elevated BMI (P < 0.001), age (P = 0.004), non-Caucasian or Hispanic race (P < 0.001), and seasonality (P < 0.001).

Conclusion: VDD/VDI is equally common in pediatric cancer survivors treated with corticosteroids and healthy children. The impact of VDD/VDI in cancer survivors may be greater due to risk for impaired bone health superimposed on that conferred from corticosteroid exposure. Thus, screening VDLs should be obtained in pediatric cancer survivors treated with corticosteroids, particularly in those with elevated BMI, older age, or non-Caucasian race. Prospective studies evaluating the impact of interventions to minimize VDD/VDI on long-term bone health in survivors are required.

Keywords: all; survivorship; vitamin D sufficiency.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / etiology
  • Young Adult