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Ballet Dancers with low D had 50 percent more injuries – pilot study Sept 2011

Vitamin D Status and Musculoskeletal Health in Adolescent Male Ballet Dancers A Pilot Study

Ducher, Gaele 1; Kukuljan, S. 2; Hill, B. 2; Garnham, A.P. 2; Nowson, C.A. 2; Kimlin, M.G. 3; Cook, J. 2
Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Volume 15, Number 3, September 2011 , pp. 99-107(9)

1: Noll Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA; School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deaking University, Burwood, Australia
2: School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia
3: AusSun Research Lab, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Publication date: 2011-09-01

Adequate vitamin D levels during growth are critical to ensuring optimal bone development. Vitamin D synthesis requires sun exposure; thus, athletes engaged in indoor activities such as ballet dancing may be at relatively high risk of vitamin D insufficiency. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of low vitamin D levels in young male ballet dancers and its impact on musculoskeletal health. Eighteen male ballet dancers, aged 10 to 19 years and training for at least 6 hours per week, were recruited from the Australian Ballet School, Melbourne, Australia. Serum 25(OH)D and intact PTH were measured in winter (July) from a non-fasting blood sample. Pubertal stage was determined using self-assessed Tanner criteria. Body composition and areal bone mineral density (aBMD) at the whole body and lumbar spine were measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Injury history and physical activity levels were assessed by questionnaire. Blood samples were obtained from 16 participants. Serum 25(OH)D levels ranged from 20.8 to 94.3 nmol/L, with a group mean of 50.5 nmol/L. Two participants (12.5%) showed vitamin D deficiency serum 25(OH)D level < 25 nmol/L, seven dancers (44%) had vitamin D insufficiency (25 to 50 nmol/L), and the remaining seven dancers (44%) had normal levels (> 50 nmol/L). No relationship was found between vitamin D status, PTH levels, body composition, and aBMD. The most commonly reported injuries were muscle tears and back pain. The average number of injuries reported by each dancer was 1.9 ± 0.4 (range: 0 to 5).

There was no difference (statistical?) in the frequency of reported injuries between subjects with vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency (2.1 ± 0.6 injuries) and those with normal vitamin D levels (1.4 ± 0.6 injuries). This pilot study showed that more than half of highly-trained young male ballet dancers presented with low levels of vitamin D in winter. Further investigations in larger samples of adolescent athletes are needed to determine if this could negatively impact bone growth and place them at higher risk for musculoskeletal injuries.
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