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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Risk Factors in Kids
Date:8/3/2009

Studies find many U.S. children not getting enough

MONDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Most American youngsters aren't getting enough vitamin D, and that deficiency is associated with an increased incidence of risk factors for cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke, two new studies find.

Simultaneous publication of both papers in the Aug. 3 online edition of Pediatrics is coincidental, the lead authors of the reports said. Both used U.S. data from the 2001-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and both were initiated because of a lack of information about the possible effects of low vitamin D levels on cardiovascular risk in young people.

While studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to increased risk in American adults, "few studies have looked at whether vitamin D can be associated with increased cardiovascular disease in children," said Jared P. Reis, who began his study while at Johns Hopkins University. He is now an epidemiologist in the division of cardiovascular sciences of the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

"Nobody questions that vitamin D deficiency causes rickets," said Dr. Michal L. Melamed, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, who led the other study. "We wanted to explore other health outcomes and noticed that nobody had described this outcome."

The study she led looked at the overall incidence of low blood levels of vitamin D among young Americans aged 1 to 21 in the survey. There is no formal definition of vitamin D deficiency, Reis said, but many experts believe that a level of 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood is desirable.

The Melamed study found that 9 percent of young Americans -- 7.6 million -- were vitamin D-deficient, with blood levels under 15 nanograms per milliliter, and that 61 percent -- 50.8 million -- were vitamin D-insufficient, with leve
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