Daily dose of vitamin D combats seasonal atopic dermatitis

Oct 31, 2014, 4:00am

Results of a recent study suggest that daily treatment with a vitamin D supplement significantly reduces the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis.

Results of a recent study suggest that daily treatment with a vitamin D supplement significantly reduces the symptoms of winter-related atopic dermatitis.

The study, led by Carlos Camargo, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, in collaboration with Mongolia’s National Dermatology Center and investigators from the Health Sciences University of Mongolia, involved more than 100 Mongolian children. Dr. Camargo also led a pilot study that showed similar results in 11 children in Boston.

The new study enrolled 107 pediatric patients, ages 2 to 17, from nine outpatient clinics in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city. The participants had a history of atopic dermatitis symptoms that worsened during cold weather or the autumn-to-winter transition period. The children were randomized into two groups, one of which received a daily vitamin D dose of 1,000 IU while the other received a placebo. Neither the children’s parents nor the study investigators knew to which group participants had been assigned.

Evaluations of atopic dermatitis symptoms were conducted at the trial’s outset and at the end of the month-long study period. Also, parents were asked whether they saw any improvement in their child’s condition. At the end of the month, children in the vitamin D group averaged 29 percent improvement on the primary assessment tool, compared with 16 percent in the placebo group. Additional assessments, including parents’ reports, also showed significantly greater improvement among children in the vitamin D group. There were no adverse effects in either group.

 “Among children with vitamin D deficiency, whose atopic dermatitis gets worse during winter, we found convincing evidence that even a low dose of vitamin D supplement helps,” Dr. Camargo tells Dermatology Times. “Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive, safe and readily available. The impact on children with lesser degrees of vitamin D deficiency, or who have year-round atopic dermatitis, requires further study.”

While the researchers could not determine whether participants were vitamin D-deficient at the study’s outset, they noted that another study - conducted at the same time and involving a greater number of Ulaanbaatar children - found significant vitamin D deficiency in 98 percent of them. This supports the probability that the children in the vitamin D study were similarly deficient.

The study was published in the October issue of theJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.