Babies and Toddlers at risk of vitamin D deficienc
Babies and toddlers of African and African-Caribbean origin are amongst the most at risk of vitamin D deficiency. The Department of Health is urging all pregnant and breastfeeding women to take a daily vitamin D supplement to ensure their babies get enough and are at less risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency.
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|Free vitamins are available through the Government’s Healthy Start scheme which supports families on low incomes by providing coupons which can be exchanged for women’s and children’s vitamins, and vouchers which can be used to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and milk.|
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and a deficiency can cause bone deformities in children and bone pain, tenderness and muscle weakness as a result of osteomalacia in adults. There is a rising number of reports of rickets (a condition where the bones become weak and soft) in children across the country, particularly amongst African, African-Caribbean, Middle Eastern and South Asian communities.
People get most of their vitamin D from the sun when the skin is exposed to summer sunlight. Those with darker skin need more sun to produce vitamin D and so are at risk of not getting enough in the UK to last through the winter months. Those who cover up for cultural reasons and younger women are also at risk. Taking an appropriate supplement during pregnancy and while breastfeeding will increase both the mother’s and her baby’s vitamin D stores and reduce the baby’s risk of developing rickets.
Women and children who are supported by the Healthy Start scheme can get free vitamin supplements containing the recommended amounts of vitamin D; the women’s vitamins contain folic acid and vitamins D and C and Healthy Start children’s vitamin drops contain vitamins A, C and D
For more information www.healthystart.nhs.uk / Or you can contact your GP or Health Visitor for more information.