Asthma attacks cut in half by vitamin D supplements, study finds

A study has found a better option for treating or lowering the risk of asthma, as reported by The Daily Mail. Aside from strengthening the bones and muscles, vitamin D supplements can also lessen the risk of respiratory problems, such as severe asthma by 50 percent, according to the new study.

“Vitamin D is safe to take and relatively inexpensive so supplementation represents a potentially cost-effective strategy to reduce this problem,” explained Adrian Martineau, lead author of the study and a professor at the Queen Mary University London. (Related: ‘Vitamin D Guide’ infographic explains importance of vitamin D for optimal health.)

Researchers examined the individual data of 955 study subjects in seven previous randomized controlled trials. They found that the rate of asthma attacks which required steroid treatments or injections was lowered by 30 percent, from 0.43 attacks per person a year to 0.30. Moreover, they found that the risk of experiencing at least one asthma attack that required hospitalization was reduced by 50 percent.

“These results add to the ever growing body of evidence that vitamin D can support immune function as well as bone health,” Martineau said.

David Jolliffe, study co-author, explained that their findings are largely based on data from adults with mild to moderate asthma. However, the data of children with severe asthma were relatively under-represented, so the results are not applicable to this patient group.

“Further clinical trials are on-going internationally, and we hope to include data from them in a future analysis to determine whether the promise of today’s results is confirmed in an even larger and more diverse group of patients,” Jolliffe said.

The study was published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine and was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

“The results of this NIHR-funded study brings together evidence from several other studies from over the world and is an important contribution to reducing uncertainties on whether vitamin D is helpful for asthma, a common condition that impacts on many thousands of people worldwide,”said Hywel Williams, director of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment program.

Asthma and pregnancy

In the United States, at least 25 million are reported to have asthma, and nearly seven million of these are children. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing in the airways. Its symptoms include recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. It is incurable, although most asthmatic people are able to manage the disease.

A study from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women with asthma have more chances of developing pregnancy and childbirth complications. The study revealed that they have higher chances of having pre-eclampsia, a medically-necessary cesarean section, an underweight baby, and a short pregnancy.

“Asthma causes these complications. This means that [a] well-controlled asthma during pregnancy could reduce the relative incidence of complications during pregnancy and childbirth,” explained Gustaf Rejnö, lead author of the study.

The study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, examined 1,075,153 pregnancies from more than 700,000 women from 2001 to 2013, in which about 10.1 percent had asthma. Data of pregnancy outcomes, and any prescribed drugs, or asthma diagnoses were collected.

“Four percent of all pregnant women develop pre-eclampsia. We found that the risk of pre-eclampsia is 17 percent higher in women with asthma compared to women without asthma,”

The reason why asthma increases a woman’s chance of suffering certain pregnancy complications was not discussed in the study, but previous research suggests the reason behind this is the steroid medications frequently prescribed by doctors.

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