Children in foster care have complex health concerns that often interplay with their childhood experiences, environment and access to care. Studies suggest that foster care youth are at an increased risk for mental health disorders and physical disabilities. Although traditionally associated with insufficient bone development, the implications of vitamin D deficiency are broadening to encompass behavioral, neurodevelopmental, and psychological phenomena. Due to its association with diet, prenatal factors, and the prevalence of nutrition related deficiencies in foster care patients, we hypothesize that foster care patients exhibit lower levels of total 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] than the general pediatric population. A retrospective cross-sectional chart review of foster care patients and similar-aged non-fostered controls screened for vitamin D deficiency was conducted between January 2013 and May 2018 (n = 407). Twenty-five (OH)D levels were comparable between foster care children and controls (p = 0.771). A univariate analysis of risk factors within the foster care group found that higher BMI, older age, ADHD, and number of transitions was associated with decreased levels of 25(OH)D. Recognition and treatment of low 25(OH)D in foster care patients with specific risk factors may serve as an adjunct for meeting their medical and psychosocial needs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences , grant UL1TR002494 . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.