10-year-old dies of vitamin D overdose in Delhi
New Delhi: Beware, consuming too much of ‘harmless’ vitamins can have serious implications. In a shocking case reported from AIIMS, a 10-yearold boy died after being administered a dose of vitamin D that was several times higher than the safe limit.
The boy had been prescribed the vitamin at a rural health facility to treat the problem of poor physical growth. He was administered six lakh international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for 21 days, which doctors said was around 30 times the recommended dosage. “This led to vitamin D toxicity and the boy was admitted in AIIMS with abdominal pain and vomiting. We managed him with intravenous hydration and steroids initially but when his condition did not improve, he had to be admitted in the paediatric ICU,” said a senior doctor.
The patient died due to pancreatitis induced by high calcium levels in the body, complicated by infection. The case was reported in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Paediatrics. Vitamin D helps in absorption of dietary calcium. However, the maintenance dose for a child is 1,000 IU, which can go up to 60,000 IU a week for treatment purposes. The supplement is being increasingly prescribed for Indians in big cities, where vitamin D deficiency is on the rise due to lower exposure to sunlight. However, death due to vitamin D toxicity is rare. Doctors say mild side-effects such as nausea, vomiting and weight loss are often seen in those taking the supplement.
“We find vitamin D toxicity mostly in patients who continue taking supplements over-the-counter after being prescribed a specific dosage for a certain duration. It is also seen in patients who have
To treat slow growth in 10-yr-old boy, doctor prescribes vitamin D 30 times higher than safe limit Boy develops vit D toxicity, which leads to Brought to AIIMS, where he succumbs to Doctors say excess vit D causes affecting multiple organs been prescribed the supplement without tests to assess the existing level,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, internal medicine at Apollo hospital.
His views were echoed by Dr Ravinder Goswami, an endocrinologist at AIIMS who has led pioneering research on the subject. “Deficiency of vitamin D is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies, particularly among those living in metros who spend less time outdoors. However, not everyone needs oral or injectable supplements. A few minutes of exposure to sunlight is enough,” he said. Dr Goswami added that many physicians and orthopaedics have been over-prescribing supplements that can end up cause more harm to patients.
Dr Seema Bhargava, chairperson, department of biochemistry at Sir Ganga Ram hospital told TOI: “If the body has adequate vitamin D and we keep taking extra supplements, it leads to calcium deposition in the bloodstream, on the walls of blood vessels which can cause increased blood pressure. If the calcium gets deposited on the linings of the intestine, it decreases absorption of food leading to weight loss. Similarly, other organs are also affected leading to fatality.”