Fear of Rickets as Lack of Vitamin D in Children Grows
Rickets is on the rise again and our children are facing major health problems because they simply aren't getting enough vitamin D.
New research has revealed that more than a quarter of all toddlers in the UK lack vitamin D. And they are not the only at-risk group either as breastfeeding mothers and the elderly are too. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to a number of serious health problems, including rickets, broken bones, muscle weakness and infections like tuberculosis.
Despite a recommendation that all children under five should take vitamin D supplements, 74% of parents are unaware of the national guidelines. More than half of health professionals also appear to be unaware.
Most of our vitamin D comes from sunlight and is also found in food such as oily fish, eggs, breakfast cereals and powdered milk.
Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant paediatrician at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital said that although he sees at least one case of rickets every month, many children have less severe problems caused by Vitamin D deficiency, including muscle weakness, delay in walking and bone pains.
He said that 100 years ago, when most children in London suffered from rickets, vitamin D was found to help to prevent the disease, which was subsequently eradicated. Then, in a sort of backlash in the 1950s, there was concern that children were receiving too much vitamin D in food supplements and cod liver oil, so these supplements were stopped, even though they continued in other Western countries.
Concerned that young children and some adults are lacking in vitamin D, England's chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies has said she will contact medical professionals about government guidelines, which recommend that some groups, including children under five, may require daily vitamin D supplements.
It is thought that up to a quarter of Britain's toddlers do not have enough vitamin D in their bloodstreams.
Dame Sally Davies said :"People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements..... 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 warning from health experts comes after a recent study by the University of Bristol found that vitamin D could reduce depression in children aged between nine and 13.
Research conducted by the Institute of Opthamology at the University College London has also found that increasing the intake of vitamin D could significantly improve the vision of elderly people.
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