Most kids with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have something in common besides the misery of cramps, bloating, constipation and diarrhea: vitamin D deficiency. More than 90 percent of preteens and teenagers with IBS don’t get enough D, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The new research echoes a pilot study that found that 82 percent of adult IBS patients were vitamin D deficient. The greater the deficiency, the greater the perceived impact of IBS on their lives. That study was published in the British Medical Journal Open Gastroenterology.
Fourteen percent of high school students and six percent of middle schoolers report IBS symptoms, according to a release about the study from the University of Massachusetts, where the research was conducted.
Benjamin U. Nwosu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics, analyzed the records of 55 children with IBS compared to those of 116 healthy control subjects to discover the link between the condition and the vitamin deficiency. He found the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency to be much higher for kids with IBS than those with other malabsorption syndromes like celiac disease and lactose intolerance.
“I was surprised that IBS had the highest prevalence of vitamin D deficiency of all the gastrointestinal disorders we studied in the past five years,” said Nwosu. “The primary finding from this study is that one out of every two pediatric patients with IBS has vitamin D deficiency compared to one out of every four healthy children and adolescents without IBS. The importance of this study was to initiate the first steps in the critical assessment of the role of vitamin D as an adjunctive therapy in children and adolescents with IBS.”
In addition to highlighting the vitamin’s therapeutic potential for IBS patients, the study’s findings add another concern for young IBS patients: decreased bone mass, according to Nwosu. Vitamin D is critical for growing bones.