Young patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) who also have vitamin D deficiency may be at an enhanced risk of multiple hospitalization outcomes, according to a study recently published in Blood Cells, Molecules and Diseases.

According to the study investigators, SCD is associated with a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency, and vitamin D deficiency may also be associated with pain crises in patients with SCD.

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The study was a retrospective analysis of electronic medical records for patients with SCD who ranged from 1 to 21 years of age and who received care at an outpatient hematology clinic. Vitamin D levels were available for 90 patients included in the analysis; vitamin D deficiency was defined as having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/mL. Hospitalization outcomes of emergency room (ER) visits, hospital admissions, and length of hospitalization were evaluated in conjunction with vitamin D levels.

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Vitamin D deficiency was identified in 68% of patients in this study and was more common among older patients. According to the investigators, the rate of vitamin D deficiency among patients in this study was higher than the national average of 41.6%.

Patients with vitamin D deficiency reported higher rates of ER visits (P <.01) and hospital admissions for pain crises (P <.01) compared with patients who did not have vitamin D deficiency. The mean length of hospitalization was 2.44 days among patients with vitamin D deficiency and 1.10 days for those without vitamin D deficiency (P <.001). Severe vitamin D deficiency showed the strongest associations with ER visits, hospitalizations, and longer hospital stays.

“Patients with SCD and [vitamin D deficiency] have increased associations with hospitalization outcomes such as the number of ER visits, the number of hospital admissions for pain crisis, and the length of hospital admission,” wrote the investigators. They concluded that diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency may have significant consequences for patients with SCD.


1.     Brown B, Long K, Agdere L, et al. The association between vitamin D deficiency and hospitalization outcomes in pediatric patients with sickle cell disease [published online February 15, 2020]. Blood Cells Mol Dis. doi: 10.1016/j.bcmd.2020.102415