Archive for January 2012

Vitamin D deficiencies linked to cot deaths (SIDS)

Two senior paediatric pathologists say they have discovered vitamin D deficiency in a significant number of children who have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome- cot deaths.Vitamin D deficiencies linked to cot deaths (SIDS)The two doctors, Dr Irene Scheimberg and Dr Marta Cohen, say that vitamin D deficiency and associated diseases such as the bone disease rickets could also explain deaths that are often thought to be suspicious.

Both doctors believe their findings merit further investigation and research.

The findings in children from London and Yorkshire followed the discovery by Dr Scheimberg in 2009 of congenital rickets in a four-month-old baby whose parents had been accused of shaking him to death.

Chana Al-Alas,19, and Rohan Wray, 22, were acquitted of murdering their son Jayden after the jury learned that his fractures, supposedly tell tale signs of abuse, could have been caused by his severe rickets. Dr Scheimberg also discovered rickets in Jayden’s mother.

Michael Turner QC, who defended Miss Al-Alas, told the BBC that he was shocked by the lack of knowledge about vitamin D deficiency of some of the expert witnesses at the trial, held at the Old Bailey.

In London, Dr Scheimberg discovered vitamin D deficiency in a further 30 cases. Vitamin D deficiency was found to be a cause of death in three cases. Cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, was discovered in two small babies. A third died of hypocalcemic fits, a condition of low serum calcium levels in the blood caused by vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency was a co-existing finding in the sudden and unexpected deaths of eight children, so-called Sudden Infant Death or Sids; in five children with bronchial asthma and another five with combined bacteria-polyviral or polyviral infections. Two of the babies, including baby Jayden, also had rib fractures.

In Yorkshire, Dr Cohen found moderate to severe levels of vitamin D deficiency in 45 children, mostly infants aged less than 12 months, who died of natural causes. Of the 24 sudden infant deaths Dr Cohen investigated from this group, 18 – or 75% – were deficient in vitamin D.

Dr Scheimberg said severe vitamin D deficiency could make the bones of small babies very brittle and capable of fracture with little or no real force.

Dame Sally Davies Chief Medical Officer was quoted as “We need to investigate the vitamin D levels of these children carefully and the circumstances in which the bones fracture,” she explained.

“Obviously if you have bones that fracture easily then they will fracture easily they will fracture with any normal movement like trying to put a baby grow on a baby you will twist their arm. In a normal child you won’t produce anything. But in a child whose bones are weakened and [who have] an abnormal cartilage growth area, then it’s easier for them to get these very tiny fractures or even big fractures.”

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and endocrinologists are experts in how the body is regulated by the hormone excreting glands – or endocrine organs.

Stephen Nussey is professor of endocrinology at St George’s Hospital at Tooting in south London. He believes that, despite repeated government recommendations on vitamin D supplementation, vitamin D deficiency is still not being taken sufficiently seriously by the authorities.

“Lizards are quite like humans in their vitamin D. Their dietary intake is pretty low and they need to have sun exposure and you need to have a light in the enclosure in which you keep your lizard of the right wavelength.

“If you don’t have one of those lights your reptile will get osteomalacia [adult rickets] very similar to humans. I guess the RSPCA would quite rightly prosecute you if you didn’t give your reptile vitamin D.

“But there’s no action taken against you if you don’t give it to your daughter. So that rather illustrates the importance placed on vitamin D for your reptile rather than giving it to your daughter.”

Earlier this week, the chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, wrote to doctors, nurses and other health professionals advising them to consider vitamin D supplementation for certain at risk groups, including pregnant mothers.

“We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children,” she explained.BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now

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Vitamin D supplements recommended by NHS health experts

The chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, is to contact medical staff about concerns young children and some adults are not getting enough vitamin D.Vitamin D supplements recommended by NHS health expertsGovernment guidelines recommend some groups, including the under-fives, should take a daily supplement.

However, recent research found that many parents and health professionals were unaware of the advice.

There has been an increase in childhood rickets over the past 15 years.

According to Dr Benjamin Jacobs, from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, links to heart disease and some cancers are also being investigated.

The Feeding for Life Foundation report, published in October last year, suggested one in four toddlers in the UK is vitamin D deficient.

However, this may be an underestimate as only vitamin D from food was included, and not any vitamin D obtained through sun exposure.

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for all people at risk of a deficiency, including all pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five years old, people aged over 65, and people at risk of not getting enough exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D is mainly obtained from sunlight. However, too much sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancer.

According to one recent study, nearly three-quarters of parents and more than half of health professionals are unaware of the recommendations.

The Department of Health has asked the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to review the issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D.

Dame Sally Davies: “We know a significant proportion of people in the UK probably have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency, including pregnant women and children under five, are already advised to take daily supplements. Free supplements

“Our experts are clear – low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of poor bone health, including rickets in young children.

“Many health professionals such as midwives, GPs and nurses give advice on supplements, and it is crucial they continue to offer this advice as part of routine consultations and ensure disadvantaged families have access to free vitamin supplements through our Healthy Start scheme.

“It is important to raise awareness of this issue, and I will be contacting health professionals on the need to prescribe and recommend vitamin D supplements to at-risk groups.”

It has long been known that vitamin D prevents rickets and children were once given food supplements like cod liver oil.

However, this practice was stopped in the 1950s because it was thought unnecessary.

In the last 10 years, doctors have been seeing more cases of vitamin D deficiency, leading to a debate over the use of food supplements and concern that many medical staff are unaware of the problem. BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now

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All pregnant women should take vitamin D coroner warns

A coroner has written to the Health Secretary calling for all pregnant women and those who breastfeed to take vitamin D.All pregnant women should take vitamin D coroner warnsNorth London coroner Andrew Walker said action should be taken to reduce the risk to others after he held an inquest last week into the death of a three month old boy.

In his letter to Andrew Lansley, Mr Walker said Milind Agarwal was taken to the doctor in July with symptoms of a probable viral infection.

He was sent home with saline nasal drops. A later telephone consultation with another doctor led to his parents being advised to give him paracetamol.

But his mother and father still had concerns and called an ambulance. Their son was taken to Northwick Park Hospital in north London ”where it was recognised he was seriously unwell”.

The baby died from septic inflammation of the heart against a background of an abnormal aortic heart valve.

A consultant paediatric pathologist told the coroner’s court that vitamin D deficiency played a role in progression of the infection and suggested all pregnant and breastfeeding women be prescribed vitamin D daily.

In his letter, Mr Walker told Mr Lansley that consideration should be given ”to increasing public awareness of vitamin D deficiency”, in particular that all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should receive 10mcg of Vitamin D every day.

Research has previously found that pregnant women and those trying to conceive are lacking vitamin D.

In 2009, experts warned that a lack of vitamin D in pregnancy can lead to a youngster suffering rickets and longer-term problems such as schizophrenia and Type 1 diabetes.

While many people can get vitamin D from sunshine, those living in cooler countries may not be getting enough.

As a result, the body often relies on its own stores of vitamin D in the winter months. Otherwise, dietary intake or multivitamins are needed.

Vitamin D is found in small quantities in a few foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver, and in fortified foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals and powdered milk.

But pregnant women are advised to avoid liver and liver products, raw or under-cooked eggs and to limit their intake of certain fish such as tuna.BUY NOWIf you have questions about Vitamin D, or you want to buy some great value Vitamin D supplements, please click here now.

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