Vitamin D supplements and Asian children

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies

An article online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood contends that vitamin D supplements should be given to Asian children from birth up to the age of two years, to curb the reemergence of vitamin D deficiency in the UK. They base their claims on an analysis of cases of vitamin D deficiency between 1994 and 2005. Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, poor tooth formation, convulsions, general ill health, and stunted growth. And it has been linked to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and mental health problems in later life. The problem with Asian children is that increased skin pigmentation makes it more difficult to synthesize the vitamin.

Rates of vitamin D deficiency were around eight times as high among Asian children, with one in 117 affected, compared with one in 923 children, overall. In recent years, health authorities have deemed the cost of primary prevention a needless expense, given that the overall levels of vitamin D deficiency in the population are low. However, pointed out the authors, it costs more to treat the consequences of the deficiency than it does to prevent its occurrence, say the authors. This was a problem that I had never heard of in the past. However, it may be interesting to a few of your new mothers.


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