Vitamin D deficiency warning

Mums in dark about the benefits of vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding

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Three quarters of mums don’t realise that pregnant women often don’t get enough vitamin D, according to a Department of Health survey.

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Nearly half of mums weren’t aware that Vitamin D can help keep bones healthy and prevent deficiency that can lead to conditions like rickets, while one in five wasn’t sure what rickets was.

Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunlight, which means it can be in short supply during the winter months. A lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets in children, a condition where the bones become very week and soft.

A rise in rickets is worrying doctors, with hundreds of children developing the condition every year. Children from Asian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds are at greater risk because their darker skin means they don’t absorb as much sunlight.

The Department of Health recommends that women take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms during pregnancy and breastfeeding and that babies and children between 6 months and 5 years take a daily supplement containing 7 micrograms, unless they are drinking 500ml or more of infant formula every day during this age range.

 “Even if you eat a healthy balanced diet before and during pregnancy, you might not be getting enough vitamin D for you and your baby as the main source is summer sunlight,”  explained Dr Minoo Irani, Consultant Paediatrician from NHS Berkshire East. “Children under five should also take children’s vitamin drops as they may not be getting enough vitamin A and C from their diet and vitamin D from their diet and the sun.”

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If you qualify for the Healthy Start scheme you can get hold of vitamin coupons – find out more at www.healthystart.nhs.uk.

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