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Prevalence of an insufficient vitamin D status at the onset of a spinal cord injury – a cross-sectional study


Study design

A cross-sectional study.


This study aimed to investigate the vitamin D status after acute spinal cord injury (SCI) onset.


Specialized SCI rehabilitation center in Switzerland.


Patients admitted to the center after an acute SCI onset were included. The prevalence of a deficient (25(OH)D ≤ 50 nmol/l), insufficient (50 < 25(OH)D ≤ 75 nmol/l) and sufficient (25(OH)D > 75 nmol/l) vitamin D status were determined after admission. Vitamin D status was compared between different patient groups based on demographic and SCI characteristics. The occurrence of bed rest, falls and pressure injuries were also assessed.


In total, 87 patients (median (interquartile range); 53 (39–67) years, 25 females, 66 traumatic SCI, 54 paraplegia) were included. Assessed a median of 15 (9–22) days after SCI onset, median vitamin D status was 41 (26–57) (range 8–155) nmol/l. The majority of patients had a deficient (67%, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.56–0.76) or insufficient (25%, 95% CI 0.17–0.36) vitamin D status. A moderate negative correlation was found between vitamin D status and body mass index (p = 0.003). A moderate positive correlation was found between vitamin D and calcium status (p = 0.01).


A deficient or insufficient vitamin D status directly after SCI onset is highly prevalent. Vitamin D status should be carefully observed during acute SCI rehabilitation. We recommend that all patients with recent SCI onset should receive vitamin D supplementation with a dosage depending on their actual vitamin D status.

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Fig. 1: Study Flow.
Fig. 2: Vitamin D status among different clinical outcomes.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available upon reasonable request.


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We kindly thank all patients who agreed to participate in this study. We thank Angela Frotzler and Yvonne Häberli for their valuable input during the conceptualization of the study.

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Authors and Affiliations



JF, AS, CP, AJ, and DL conceived the study. YW and AH performed the data collection. AS and AJ provided clinical expertise. DL and JK provided expertise in statistics. AH and JF prepared the first draft of the manuscript. All authors were involved in the revision of the draft manuscript and have agreed to the final content.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anneke Hertig-Godeschalk.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the local ethics committee (BASEC-Number: 2017-01108).

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Hertig-Godeschalk, A., Scheel-Sailer, A., Wey, Y. et al. Prevalence of an insufficient vitamin D status at the onset of a spinal cord injury – a cross-sectional study. Spinal Cord 61, 211–217 (2023).

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