Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in sickle cell disease: a systematic review

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 3;10(3):e0119908. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0119908. eCollection 2015.


Vitamin D deficiency has emerged as a public health focus in recent years and patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) reportedly have a high prevalence of the condition. Our objectives were to summarize definitions of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency used in the literature, and to determine the prevalence and magnitude of each in patients with SCD through a systematic review conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. From a PubMed search, 34 potential articles were identified and 15 met eligibility criteria for inclusion. Definitions of deficiency and insufficiency varied greatly across studies making direct comparisons difficult. This review provides evidence to suggest that suboptimal vitamin D levels are highly prevalent among those with SCD, far more so than in comparable non-SCD patients or matched control populations. Defining deficiency as vitamin D < 20 ng/mL, prevalence estimates in SCD populations range from 56.4% to 96.4%. When compared with results from the population-based National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, however, the general African American population appeared to have a similarly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. African American patients with and without SCD were both substantially higher than that of Caucasians. What remains to be determined is whether there are adverse health effects for patients with SCD because of concurrent vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / blood
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / epidemiology*
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / ethnology
  • Black or African American
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / ethnology
  • White People


  • Vitamin D

Grant support

Support for the researchers’ time provided by the Baptist Foundation. St. Jude investigators are supported by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.