One of the country’s leading experts in the problems of vitamin D deficiency says more needs to be done to prevent the recent resurgence of childhood rickets, ahead of a major awareness campaign.
Dr Benjamin Jacobs, consultant paediatrician and Director of Children’s Service at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, is using National Vitamin D Awareness Week to renew calls for parents and pregnant women to consider supplementation, following a rise in serious medical problems affecting children including, rickets, calcium deficiency convulsions and rarely even heart failure.
Dr Jacobs, who has spent years treating children suffering vitamin D deficiency, spoke out this year, describing what he sees as an unacceptable lack of vitamin D awareness.
Now the consultant says more needs to be done to make health professionals aware of the issue, as many had been taught that rickets was a disease of the past.
“I’ve noticed a big increase in children suffering vitamin D deficiency in the last decade. Even today, many doctors, health visitors, midwives and nurses, are not sufficiently aware of the problem.
“Parents need to be made more aware, in a balanced and informed way, of the conditions deficiency can cause. For some groups, particularly children and pregnant women, supplementation is the best way to go,” he said.
Dr Jacobs’ calls follow announcements earlier this year by Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, who contacted medical staff about concerns that young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.
Research suggests that in many parts of the UK, most children have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Dr Jacobs sees an extreme case of rickets monthly, but says there are many more children who show less severe symptoms of deficiency including muscle weakness, a delay in walking, and bone pains. A national survey of children suffering convulsions due to a lack of Vitamin D is due to be completed next month.
Cases of rickets have also increased by more than 400 per cent since 1996, Labour MP Kate Green announced last month in the House of Commons.
National Vitamin D Awareness Week launched on Monday 29 October and continues til Sunday 4 November, to raise public understanding of the dangers of vitamin D deficiency.
Health supplement pioneer BetterYou, proudly supporting the awareness week, has also just revealed survey findings which suggest a massive proportion of the UK population are at risk of a range of debilitating symptoms brought on by deficiency.
The survey found that nine out of ten people could be vitamin D deficient, with nearly two thirds severely lacking. And of those diagnosed as being severely deficient, most (71 per cent) do not take any form of supplement- highlighting a clear link between deficiency and supplementation.
Andrew Thomas, founder and managing director at BetterYou, said: “Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most important lifestyle health initiatives facing us today. Raising awareness this is a long-term objective for our company, but we believe that for people to take action against this easily reversible situation, they must have access to the correct information.
“I believe the work Dr Jacobs and others are producing to expand our knowledge and treatment in this area is admirable and very exciting.”
The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is the largest orthopaedic hospital in the UK and regarded as a leader in the field of orthopaedics both in the UK and world-wide.
The Trust provides a comprehensive and unique range of neuro-musculoskeletal healthcare, ranging from acute spinal injuries to orthopaedic medicine and specialist rehabilitation for chronic back pain sufferers.
Source: The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital