Rates of childhood asthma have increased steadily over the last fifty years; nearly 10% of all US children have been affected. Annual U.S. treatment costs for asthma are $3.2 billion, and personal costs are reflected in the more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 16 million missed school days per year. Dr. Barbara Gracious’ research is focused on understanding how nutritional variables contribute to asthma severity. She and her team, including Dr. Mark Hall, Dr. Beth Allen, and Dr. David Stukus, are planning to explore the role of Vitamin D, an immune-regulating hormone, in asthma.
An upcoming pilot study funded by The Ohio State Food Innovation Center will help determine if diet predicts immune function, and whether asthma and blood biomarkers of asthma severity improve in response to vitamin D supplementation in those children who are vitamin D-deficient. These efforts will provide data to support a larger clinical translational study to confirm whether and how vitamin D improves asthma and the quality of life for patients and caregivers.
A related goal of the study is to look at whether depressive symptoms change in children with asthma treated with vitamin D, as depression is linked to vitamin D deficiency, but exactly how vitamin D alters risk for depression is unclear.
Gracious B, Finucane TL, Freidman-Campbell M, Messing S, Parkhurst MM. Vitamin D deficiency and psychotic features in mentally ill adolescents: A cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry 2012, 12:38.