Senior paediatric pathologists Dr Irene Scheimberg and Dr Marta Cohen have revealed that out of 24 cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome studied, 18 (or 75%) from the group were found to be deficient in Vitamin D.
Although it’s only a small sample, the findings from both Yorkshire and London hospitals, has lead to suggestions that other instances of infant death could have been as a result of a Vitamin D deficiency. Speaking in reference to cases where an infant’s death has been considered suspicious, Dr Scheimberg said, “I think there should be a commission that studies all these cases [which would] take into consideration the age of the children, the gender, the race and the way in which these families live”, reports the BBC.
Low levels of Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, can lead to bone diseases like rickets. As Dr Scheimberg explained, babies’ bones can become brittle and capable of being fractured or broken with little force. Studies have shown that a significant number of people in the UK are likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
A lack of knowledge amongst healthcare professionals, as well as expert witnesses in trials surrounding suspicious infant deaths, is reportedly being blamed for previous failings.
The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is urging healthcare professionals to raise awareness of the importance of Vitamin D. Sally is keen to see Vitamin D supplements made widely available for high risk groups, such as pregnant women and children under five. There are also calls for disadvantaged families to be given free access to the supplement.
The Department of Health is calling on the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review dietary recommendations regarding Vitamin D.