Vitamin D Analyser begins taking its first samples!

Sheffield Children’s Hospital is now be able to better diagnose Vitamin D deficiency thanks to a £200,000 state-of-the-art machine funded by The Children’s Hospital Charity which began testing its first samples this month.

The state-of-the-art Tandem Mass Spectrometer is the gold standard for the diagnosis of Vitamin D deficiency, which can cause a wide range of serious health problems from bone health to allergies and cardiac disorders.

And thanks to an innovative new method developed during testing by the hospital’s world-leading clinical chemistry laboratory, 135,000 children from across the region will now benefit from enhanced Vitamin D screening.

The Clinical Chemistry team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital have successfully isolated a form of Vitamin D, known technically as C-3-epimer, which is increased in very young children and doesn’t help the body absorb calcium needed for healthy bones.

This gold standard method removes the risks of clinicians being misled when analysing the Vitamin D levels in children. The new machine will also mean a reduction of up to 75% in waiting times, allowing patients to get the life-changing treatment they need sooner than ever.

Early identification of Vitamin D deficiency can prevent conditions like rickets going undiagnosed, preventing the potential for lifelong disability and musculoskeletal problems. Previously, over 500 Vitamin D tests were sent away for analysis by Sheffield Children’s Hospital to other hospitals as the team lacked the equipment necessary to test the samples in-house.

Camilla Scott, Head of Clinical Chemistry at Sheffield Children’s Hospital said: “This is a really exciting moment for us. By analysing samples in-house, patients and families will experience vastly reduced turnaround times for results, with potentially life-changing consequences from faster access to treatment.”

“Isolating the epimer also means that we can remove the potential for a misleading result when analyzing Vitamin D deficiency. None of this would have been possible without The Children’s Hospital Charity, whose funding ensured we could secure a best-of-its-kind analyser.”

Hundreds of runners, cyclists and swimmers helped fundraise for The Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal for the new equipment. The proceeds from the charity’s snowflake appeal in 2017 also helped raise the £200,000 needed to purchase the machine.

It was named ‘Sonny’ at the request of Lead Clinical Scientist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Jane Dalley. Jane launched the fundraising bid for the equipment but sadly passed away aged just 43 after a short battle with leukemia before fundraising had finished.

The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Director, David Vernon-Edwards said: “Jane’s infectious enthusiasm proved the driving force behind the fundraising campaign for the Vitamin D analyser from the very beginning.

“We’re delighted that it will now be able to help so many young patients from across the region, creating a lasting legacy that will prevent a wide range of serious health problems and further enhance our world-leading specialist Chemistry Laboratory for years to come.”