Coroner Andrew Walker has written to the Health Secretary calling for action to increase the public’s awareness of vitamin D deficiency, especially for pregnant and breastfeeding mums.
Andrew, from north London, wrote the letter to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley after he held an inquest into the death of a baby Milind Agaral last week. Milind died from septic inflammation of the heart.
Before he died, 3-month-old Milind was taken to the doctor with symptoms of a viral infection. He was then taken to Northwick Park Hospital, north London, where he was found to be “seriously unwell.”
A consultant paediatric pathologist told the inquest that a lack of vitamin D played a role in Milind’s infection progressing and that all pregnant and breastfeeding women should be given vitamin D every day.
Andrew mentioned in his letter to the Health Secretary that pregnant mums and those who breastfeed should receive 10mcg of Vitamin D daily.
As well as getting vitamin D from sunshine, it can be found in foods such as oily fish, eggs, liver and prepared foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals and powdered milk. However mums-to be are advised to avoid liver, raw or under-cooked eggs and to not eat a lot of certain fish such as tuna.
Pregnant women, breastfeeding mums and growing kids need extra vitamin D because it’s required for growth. According to the NHS, most people can get all they need through a healthy, balanced diet and a little sun. However, the Department of Health recommends a daily vitamin D supplement for a number of different groups of people. These are:
- babies and children from 6 months to 5 years
- pregnant and breastfeeding women
- people over 65
- people who aren’t exposed to much sun – this could be because you cover up your skin for cultural reasons or have to stay indoors
- people with darker skin – for example, if you’re African-Caribbean or of South Asian origin
When it comes to your breastfeeding diet, the NHS recommends nursing mums take a supplement that has 10mcg of vitamin D each day.
Make sure you talk to your GP if you’re worried about your vitamin D intake and considering taking a supplement.