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Children's Hospital Doctors Studying Relationship Between Asthma, Vitamin D Levels

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Could something cheap and easily available over-the-counter be just as good, if not better, than inhalers for kids with asthma?

That's what local researchers want to know.

High school freshman Isabel Muschweck, of Pine Township, will never forget her first asthma attack.

"It was at a dance, and after a while I noticed I couldn't breathe," she said. "My friend also started noticing, too, that I wasn't able to breathe, and I started crying. It was like one of the most scariest things for me, because I had no idea what was going on."

"The attacks she has had were horrifying and immediate," says Susan Muschweck, Isabel's mom. "And when your child cannot breathe, it's the most helpless thing you feel in the world."

Isabel has tried inhalers and breathing treatments. She's had asthma for about five years, with two to four attacks per year.

She's taking part in a study to see if Vitamin D might help.

Other studies have shown a relationship between asthma and low Vitamin D levels.

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Researchers at Children's Hospital want to find out if Vitamin D helps people respond better to the customary treatment of inhaled steroids, or allows them to use lower doses of inhaled steroids.

Doctors in Pittsburgh are looking for 200 participants, ages 6 to 14. They must be have well-controlled asthma and a low Vitamin D level.

They will get either Vitamin D or placebo, and will be followed for a year, checking blood levels of the supplement and the number of attacks.

"At the end, we'll see whether the kids receiving Vitamin D had a lower rate of asthma attacks than the kids who received placebo," said Dr. Juan Celedon, a lung and allergy specialist at Children's Hospital. "We can also check whether the children who were on Vitamin D are able to reduce their dose of medication more often than those who are on placebo."

It will take four years to get the final results.

"Vitamin D is very inexpensive, and asthma attacks are such a huge problem that even if we make a small difference, that could have a very big impact," said Dr. Celedon.

For more information about the study, call 877-296-9026.


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