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USPSTF Finds Evidence Lacking for Vitamin D Screening

TUESDAY, Sept. 22, 2020 -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the current evidence is inadequate to recommend screening for vitamin D deficiency in asymptomatic adults. This finding forms the basis of a draft recommendation statement published online Sept. 22 by the USPSTF.

Leila C. Kahwati, M.D., M.P.H., from RTI International-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Research Triangle Park, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 46 studies that assessed various doses, frequency, and duration of treatment with vitamin D to examine the benefits and harms of treatment. The researchers found that the evidence suggests that vitamin D treatment, with or without calcium, had no effect on most health outcomes; for some outcomes, the evidence was limited. Treatment had no impact on mortality, fractures, incidence of diabetes, incidence of cardiovascular disease, incidence of cancer, or depression among community-dwelling populations. Evidence was inconclusive for the effect of treatment on falls. Active treatment and control groups had a similar incidence of total adverse events, serious adverse events, and other harms.

Based on these findings, the USPSTF concluded that there is a lack of evidence for the benefits of screening for vitamin D deficiency. Therefore, for asymptomatic adults, the balance of benefits and harms of screening for vitamin D deficiency cannot be determined (I statement). The draft recommendation statement and evidence review have been posted for public comment; comments can be submitted from Sept. 22 through Oct. 19, 2020.

"We don't know the precise level of vitamin D in the body that leads to poor health outcomes, or which test might be a better indicator of vitamin D deficiency," task force member John Wong, M.D., said in a statement. "Once we know the level of vitamin D that people need to remain healthy, or if there is a better test, more research on whether screening can help prevent negative outcomes, such as falls, cancer, or heart problems will be helpful."

Draft Evidence Review
Draft Recommendation Statement
Comment on Recommendation Statement

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Posted: September 2020

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