One in Four Toddlers Have a Vitamin D Deficiency
Latest research has found that one in four toddlers in the UK are lacking in vitamin D. This vitamin D deficiency can lead to various illnesses and health conditions such as weak bones and in severe cases rickets disease.
A more concerning statistic was that more than half of healthcare professionals are also unaware of these guidelines. This indicates that the health authorities may not be getting the message across. These guidelines would suggest that the NHS (National Health Service) would provide vitamin D supplements to all toddlers.
These findings were described as a major health issue by Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant pediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The research revealed that 74 per cent of parents knew nothing about vitamin D guidelines.
These guidelines recommend that all children under the age of five should be given vitamin D supplements.
Dr Jacobs told BBC Breakfast, “We see about one case of rickets a month in our hospital, but that’s the very severe end of the disease.
“There are many other children who have less severe problems – muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains – and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of Vitamin D.”
Rickets disease is a rare disease that affects bone development in children. This disease can soften bones and lead to bone deformities. Rickets is believed to be a disease of another age, although doctors are now seeing more and more cases. The disease was all but eradicatedby the 1940’s with the use of vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D is naturally formed in our bodies in response to sunlight. It is also found in oily fish such as salmon,sardines, herring and mackerel. Vitamin D is also found in milk, eggs, porridge, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and vegetable oils.
By the 1950’s, there was a concern that children were getting too much vitamin D in their food and with supplements. Due to this fear, unlike other countries, vitamin D supplements were stopped in the UK.
“It’s really only over the past 10 years orso that I’ve noticed children with Vitamin D deficiency. And still I would say today, the majority of doctors, health visitors, midwives, nurses, are no taware enough of the problem” he continued.
Current health guidelines advise children and pregnant women to have 400 units a day. This is described as a conservative level by Dr Jacobs, as in the US, he said a study recommended pregnant women to have 4,000 units a day.
Chief medical officer Professor Sally Davies said that the government has ordered an urgent review of these findings. Professor Davies said, “we know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood.
“People at risk of vitamin D deficiency ,including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children.
“Many health professionals such as midwives, GPs and nurses give advice on supplements, and it is crucial they continue to offer this advice as part of routine consultations and ensure disadvantaged families have access to free vitamin supplements through our Healthy Start scheme.
‘”It is important to raise awareness of this issue, and I will be contacting health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups. The Department of Health has also asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the important issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D”.
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