Background: Vitamin D is known to have modulatory actions in the immune system. Its influence on the severity of lower tract acute respiratory infections (LT-ARIs) is unclear.
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the role of vitamin D on LT-ARI in paediatric patients.
Methods: Children admitted to hospital with LT-ARI were prospectively recruited through the GENDRES network (March 2009-May 2013). The 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) levels were measured by immunoassay. The severity of the illness was evaluated according to clinical scales, length of hospital stay, ventilatory requirements, and pediatric intensive care unit admission.
Results: A total of 347 patients with a median (interquartile range) age of 8.4 (2.6-21.1) months were included. The mean (SD) 25-OHD levels in our series were 27.1 (11.3) ng/mL. In this study, a cutoff value of ≥30 ng/mL was considered optimal vitamin status. Patients with 25-OHD levels <20 ng/mL were at a higher risk of showing severe signs of respiratory difficulties (OR 5.065, 95% confidence interval 1.998-12.842; P = 0.001) than patients with normal values, and had a 117% higher risk of oxygen necessity and 217% higher risk of ventilatory requirement than those patients with normal values. An inverse correlation was found between 25-OHD levels and the severity in the evaluated scales. 25-OHD levels did not influence PICU admission rate or length of hospital stay.
Conclusions: 25-OHD levels of children admitted because of a LT-ARI are <30 ng/mL. Lower levels of 25-OHD were found to be correlated with severity of the disease. The possible role of abnormal 25-OHD levels as a facilitator or consequence of the infection needs further evaluation.