Aim The 2012 RCPCH position statement described vitamin D deficiency as a significant health risk1. The 2016 Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report now recommends starting vitamin D supplements at birth until 5 years of age in all children living in the UK. A citywide intervention in 2013 reduced the incidence of symptomatic vitamin D deficiency2. A regional survey aimed to explore parental awareness of Vitamin D supplementation in children and their mothers, and to compare a large urban area with other parts of the region.
Methods A regional multicentre, qualitative study using a 19point questionnaire was distributed to parents of all children below 5 years of age. The questionnaire was distributed at the point of paediatric contact, in secondary care, assessment units, wards or outpatients. Written information was provided with the survey to educate parents about the study and the importance of Vitamin D.
Results There have been 62 responses to date, from 3 centres across the region. 13 children (22%) were receiving an appropriate form of vitamin supplementation. Two children were supplemented but >5 years old, therefore excluded from the numbers. 55% (n=34) of respondents had heard of the ‘Healthy Start’ Programme, with 19% (n=12) having received information about vitamin D from their Health Visitor. 8 (13%) of the children surveyed had a chronic disease, none of which was directly related to bone health or vitamin D deficiency.
Conclusion We have provided evidence that despite ongoing efforts by government, the public are largely unaware of the importance of normal vitamin D levels and also of the need for vitamin supplementation. We propose that further progress could be made starting with postnatal wards, as the culture of starting supplements in neonates could be the trigger to wider uptake of vitamin D. Food fortification is still an area of review, as is the availability of free vitamins in specific geographical areas.
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