May. 20, 2014

Low Vitamin D Associated With Increased Cardiovascular Risks in Children and Teens with Lupus

Doctors who treat children and teens with lupus often rely on research conducted in adults to make tough decisions about treatment and care. Prior research looking at vitamin D deficiency and lupus has looked at adults only. Now, new research  published in Lupus Science & Medicine looks at the potential association between vitamin D deficiency and heightened cardiovascular risk in children and teens with lupus.

The study’s lead author is Dr. Angela Byun Robinson with the Department of Pediatrics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital/Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. According to Dr. Robinson, the results of this new study show that in addition to traditional risk factors for vitamin D deficiency, such as darker skin, older age and time of year (for instance, whether or not it is summer), inflammation may be associated with low levels of vitamin D. This deficiency is common in pediatric lupus and is independently associated with a marker of inflammation that predicts cardiovascular disease risk. This is the first study in this area looking specifically at children with lupus.

Dr. Robinson suggests that a heart healthy diet, exercise and abstaining from smoking can all help to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease in all people, including children and teens with lupus.

“We don't know for sure that vitamin D supplementation will help with prevention of cardiovascular disease, but that is definitely a question we are working to answer,” explains Dr. Robinson. “What we can say at this point is that vitamin D deficiency seems to be associated in many studies with increased cardiovascular risk factors, but we cannot say at this point that vitamin D deficiency causes this increase in risk. More research is needed.”

More studies are currently underway to better understand vitamin D deficiency in children and teens with lupus and evaluate a potential connection with cardiovascular disease.

The Lupus Foundation of America takes a strategic approach to investigating lupus in children by calling on some of the greatest minds in the field to address the most critical issues that have stood in the way of progress, and hold the greatest promise for accelerating our understanding of how lupus affects children and adolescents. For more information about the Lupus Foundation of America and our National Research Program, visit lupus.org/research.

Lupus Science & Medicine, owned by the Lupus Foundation of America and published by BMJ, is the first-ever international, Open Access medical journal dedicated to advancing knowledge in the diagnosis, treatment and management of lupus and related diseases.


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