Associations Between Vitamin D Level and Hospitalizations With and Without an Infection in a National Cohort of Medicare Beneficiaries

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Research has implicated low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) level as a risk factor for infection; however, results have not been consistent. To further determine the nature of this relationship, we conducted a cohort study using Medicare beneficiaries participating in the 2001–2002 and 2003–2004 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey with data individually linked to hospital records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The primary exposure was a 25(OH)D level of <15 ng/mL versus ≥15 ng/mL. The outcomes were a hospitalization with or without an infection within 1 year of participation in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, as determined from the final hospital discharge codes (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification). Of 1,713 individuals, 348 had a baseline serum 25(OH)D level of <15 ng/mL, 77 experienced a hospitalization with an infection, and 287 experienced a hospitalization without an infection. In multivariable analyses, a serum 25(OH)D level of <15 ng/mL was associated with a higher risk of hospitalization with an infection (risk ratio = 2.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.3, 5.9, P < 0.01) but not of hospitalization without an infection (risk ratio = 1.4, 95% confidence interval: 0.9, 2.1, P = 0.1). In this study, we found an association between a serum 25(OH)D concentration of <15 ng/mL and a higher subsequent risk for hospitalization with an infection among Medicare beneficiaries.

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