Medical staff throughout England will be contacted by chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, over concerns that children are not getting enough vitamin D.

The announcement comes after it was revealed there has been an increase in confirmed childhood rickets cases over the last 15 years. Additionally, recent research discovered many parents and health professionals did not know about current government guidelines which recommend that some groups, including under-fives, should take a daily vitamin D supplement.

Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital told the BBC he was seeing one severe case of rickets a month. He said: "There are many other children who have less severe problems - muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains - and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of vitamin D."

As a result, the Department of Health (DH) has asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to look at the current vitamin D recommendations in foods, as fortification of products such as milk or butter could be a possibility.

Commenting on Dame Davies' proposal, Jacqui Lowdon, of the British Dietetic Association's paediatric group, said: "The British Dietetic Association welcomes the announcement by the Chief Medical Officer that all health professionals will now be proactively asked to prescribe Vitamin D supplements to all at-risk groups, a recommendation that dietitians have always supported.

"This is an important public health message, strongly supported by the BDA, which has potential for significant health benefits."

The Feeding for Life Foundation estimate one in four children is vitamin D deficient and their recent study found that  nearly three-quarters of parents and over half of health professionals are unaware of this problem, as referred to in this BBC report 

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Posted by Robert Mair on 25/1/2012