-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- People taking oral steroids
double their risk for severe vitamin D deficiency, which can lead
to bone disease or muscle weakness, a new study indicates.
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva
University, in New York City, said steroids might increase levels
of an enzyme that inactivates the vitamin, resulting in
osteomalacia (softening of the bones), rickets (softening of bones
in children) or clinical myopathy (muscle weakness). They
recommended that physicians monitor vitamin D levels of patients
being treated with oral steroids.
"When doctors write that prescription for steroids and they're sending the patients for lab tests, they should also get the vitamin D level measured," study author Dr. Amy Skversky, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Einstein and Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City, said in a news release from the university.
In conducting the study, published in the Sept. 28 online
edition of the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers examined information compiled on more than 31,000 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006.
Roughly 1 percent of those examined reported using oral steroids
in the past month. Of those taking the drugs, 11 percent had
severely low levels of vitamin D (defined as levels below 10
nanograms per milliliter of blood). Meanwhile, the study revealed
that only 5 percent of those not taking the steroid had this
The researchers noted the risk was most evident among
participants under 18. These children and teens were 14 times more
likely to have a severe vitamin D deficiency.
The study authors said that their findings did not apply to
those using inhaled steroids.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
vitamin D deficiency.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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