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Adolescents at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency

Blacks and females more likely to have vitamin D deficiency

WEDNESDAY, Mar. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A substantial proportion of adolescents, especially non-Hispanic blacks and females, are deficient in vitamin D, according to a report published in the March issue of Pediatrics.

Sandy Saintonge, M.D., of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, and colleagues investigated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in adolescents using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, a large and nationally representative data set. A total of 2,955 adolescents (12 to 19 years of age) who had recorded levels of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D were included. The investigators defined vitamin D deficiency as serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels less than 20 ng/mL, compared to the traditional definition of less than 11 ng/mL.

Overall, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among adolescents was 14 percent; importantly, this was increased from only 2 percent when the traditional definition was used, the authors note. Non-Hispanic black adolescents were 20-fold more likely to have vitamin D deficiency compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts. Additionally, females had more than twice (2.73-fold) the risk of males for vitamin D deficiency, the researchers report. Other subgroups at increased risk included overweight adolescents (1.97-fold), as well as those with only a high school education (1.53-fold).

"Routine supplementation and monitoring of serum levels should be considered," the authors conclude. "The consequences of chronic vitamin D deficiency in adolescents should be prospectively investigated."

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