News from Upstate

September 17, 2010
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Vitamin D levels in women linked to pelvic floor disorders


SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Higher vitamin D levels are associated with a decreased risk of pelvic floor disorders in women, according to findings from a study conducted by Upstate Medical University researchers Samuel S. Badalian, M.D., Ph.D., and Paula F. Rosenbaum, Ph.D.

Their findings also suggest that treatment of vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency in both premenopausal and postmenopausal women could improve pelvic muscle strength with a possible reduction in the prevalence of pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence.

The findings were reported in the April 2010 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a publication of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

One in four women in the United States have pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and fecal incontinence, with increased frequency as women age.

The study was done to estimate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in women with pelvic floor disorders and to evaluate possible associations between vitamin D levels and these disorders. The hypothesis particularly focused on the relationship between vitamin D and pelvic muscle strength.

“Over the past decade, researchers have documented the relationship of vitamin D with functional bone health outcomes, such as falls, hip fractures and decreased bone mineral density in elderly and postmenopausal women. Because vitamin D receptors are present in

human muscle tissue, a direct effect of vitamin D on muscle physiology was biologically plausible,” said researcher Badalian, a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Badalian and Rosenbaum, an associate professor of public health and preventive medicine, estimated the associations of vitamin D levels, POP, and female urinary and fecal incontinence using data from the

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected during 2005 and 2006. The survey included information on vitamin D intake starting in 1988.

From the NHANES survey participants, Badalian and Rosenbaum also incorporated other variables to further characterize their study population. The 2005-2006 NHANES survey selected 3,440 women aged 20 years or older through probability sampling.

Their final analytic data set comprised 1,881 women with data on both vitamin D levels and pelvic floor disorders.

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