Background Increasingly research is finding high rates of vitamin D deficiency in the UK population with those at increased risk being children under five years, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and the elderly. As a consequence of this we are also seeing more children with rickets and other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. The Department of Health recommends that all breastfeeding mothers and children from 6 months to 5 years of age should take vitamin D supplements (unless the child is taking over 500 mls of formula per day).
Aim of audit To determine the percentage of breastfeeding mothers and children under five years of age taking vitamin D supplements within a sample of the local population. To determine awareness of guidelines amongst Health Visitors, Midwives and Paediatric doctors.
Method Data was collected via patient survey. Questionnaires were handed out in three children’s outpatient departments. The questionnaires were voluntary and completed anonymously. Health visitors, midwives and paediatric doctors were asked to complete an anonymous online survey.
Results Of the 93 patients surveyed, 44% mothers breastfed their baby for at least one month. Of these only 22% took vitamin D supplements. Of the 49 children drinking cow’s milk and over 6 months of age, only 16% were taking vitamin D supplements.
90% midwives, 65% health visitors and 33% paediatric doctors were aware of the guidelines. Just over 50% of midwives give the correct advice to breastfeeding mothers. Over 50% health visitors give the incorrect advice. Most doctors declined to comment.
Conclusions Very few breastfeeding mothers and children under five years take vitamin D supplements in this local area. This area has high levels of social deprivation where many would be entitled to free multivitamins under the Healthy Start scheme. Awareness of the guidelines amongst frontline staff is extremely poor and advice given to parents is frequently incorrect. We aim to improve this situation through an intervention programme and then re-audit.