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Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital and in four other U.S. cities are facing criticism over the ethics of a study exploring whether vitamin D prevents dangerous asthma attacks in children, because only half of the 400 participants are receiving the potential treatment.

Dr. Bruce Davidson, who researches respiratory diseases at the University of Washington in Seattle, has complained to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that the vitamin D study puts young children at risk. All participants, who are being recruited in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices, have serious asthma and low levels of vitamin D.

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