Children with neuromuscular diseases at risk for decreased bone density

Children with neuromuscular diseases such as muscular dystrophy, may be at risk for suboptimal bone density due to low levels of vitamin D.

Healthy bone density is important to assure proper growth and bone strength in children.

To determine the prevalence of hypovitaminosis D among children with neuromuscular diseases, a team of researchers from the University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, compared the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels of 42 children with neuromuscular diseases with the values obtained from 136 healthy children. The children with neuromuscular diseases had a mean 25OHD of 48.3. (SD 17.5) nmol/L, which is significantly lower compared to the healthy children. Sixteen out of the 42 children (29%) had hypovitaminosis D (defined as 25OHD < 40 nmol/L), including 10 with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, 2 with Becker muscular dystrophy, 1 with myotonic dystrophy, 1 with spinal muscular atrophy, and 2 with congenital myopathies. Patients on corticosteroid therapy were more likely to have low 25OHD levels.

Recognition of children at risk for vitamin D deficiency can assist physicians in providing early preventive treatment and ongoing dietary counseling to ensure optimal bone health in this pediatric population. According to researcher, Dr. Jean Mah at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, “The optimal amount of vitamin D supplementation for children with neuromuscular disease will require further studies. However, the preliminary findings suggest that periodic laboratory monitoring of vitamin D levels would be helpful for early detection of this problem.”

The complete findings and results of this study are being presented at the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) 54th Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, October 14-17, 2007. The AANEM is the largest organization worldwide, with over 5000 members dedicated to advancing neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, and electrodiagnostic medicine.

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