What was the impact of daily vitamin D on the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis in a group of Mongolian children?
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Health Sciences University of Mongolia conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that enrolled 107 children, aged 2 to 17 years, from 9 outpatient clinics in the Mongolian capital city of Ulaanbaatar. All of the children had a history of worsening atopic dermatitis with the onset of winter or in cold weather. They were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: vitamin D (cholecalciferol) supplementation (1000 IU) or placebo each day for a month in the form of colorless, odorless, tasteless drops.
The children underwent a standard evaluation of their symptoms at the beginning and end of the study using the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) and the Investigator’s Global Assessment (IGA; based on 6 categories from clear to very severe). The researchers surmise, in light of data from another contemporaneous study of children in Ulaanbaatar, that many of the children in their study had a baseline vitamin D deficiency.
After a month of treatment, childen in the vitamin D supplement group showed clinically and statistically significant improvement, averaging 29% on EASI compared with the 16% in the placebo group. They also showed marked improvement on the IGA and parental report. Neither group suffered any adverse effects.
The findings support the results of a previous trial by the researchers in 11 Boston children, suggesting that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to exacerbating symptoms of atopic dermatitis in winter. Noting that the improvement in symptoms in the present trial resulted from “inexpensive, safe, and readily available” oral vitamen D supplementation, the researchers conclude that supplementation may offer a safe way to alleviate winter-related atopic dermatitis symptoms without having to expose children to ultraviolet radiation and its risk of skin cancer.
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