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Vitamin D

Portfolio politics

Louise Newson

Monday, 09 January 2012

LouiseNewsonBlog9thJanuary2012.jpgThe incidence of vitamin D deficiency in children is increasing in the UK. Partly this is due to inadequate diets and also due to children playing out in the sunshine less. In the UK only infant formula milk and margarine have statutory vitamin D supplementation.

Current recommendations are for breast-fed babies and children under the age of five years to take vitamin D supplements. Some experts actually believe that there should be effective public health measures in place for managing vitamin D deficiency, especially in children, as the health consequences are so well documented and the treatment is cheap and effective.

Vitamin D deficiency obviously causes rickets in children. There is some evidence to suggest that vitamin D deficiency is associated with respiratory infections.

Recently there was in inquest into the death of a three month old baby. He was diagnosed with a viral infection by his GP. However, he was later diagnosed in hospital as having viral myocarditis and vitamin D deficiency. The coroner for this case has actually written to the Health Secretary suggesting that all pregnant women and breastfeeding women should take vitamin D supplements.

As a mother of a nine month old baby, no one recommended to me that I should be taking vitamin D supplements either during my pregnancy or when I was breast feeding. Nor has anyone suggested that my baby has vitamin supplements. In addition, in my practice I have never recommended vitamin supplements in children under 5 years or to pregnant women. I definitely need to change my practice when I return to work after maternity leave!

Author's Image

Louise Newson

Louise is a part-time GP in Solihull, as well as a writer for numerous medical publications, including www.patient.info. She is an Editor and Reviewer for e-learning courses for the RCGP. She is an Editor for Geriatric Medicine journal and the British Journal of Family Medicine. Louise has contributed to various healthcare articles in many different newspapers and magazines and is the spokesperson for The Information Standard. She has also done television and radio work. Louise is a medical consultant for Maverick TV and has participated regularly in ‘Embarrassing Bodies Live from the Clinic’. Louise has three young children and is married to a consultant urological surgeon. Although her spare time is limited she enjoys practising ashtanga yoga regularly and loves road cycling – she has raised over £2K for a local charity, Molly Olly Wishes by competing in a 120km cycle ride!
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