Background A lack of vitamin D can lead to skeletal deformities and disturbances in growth.1 The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) published a report in July 2016 making new recommendations for vitamin D supplementation. Subsequently, our local guidelines were updated on the supplementation of vitamin D in the paediatric population, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.
Aim It is currently unknown whether these guidelines are being adhered to and as such, this audit was designed to assess the vitamin D supplementation status of these populations.
Objectives Establish current level of understanding around the routine use of vitamin supplements; Consider what advice is currently provided and who provides this advice; Determine the current use of vitamin D supplementation in children as well as the levels of vitamin D supplementation in breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women; Assess whether these groups are consuming appropriate quantities of vitamin D supplementation and identify reasons why they may not be.
Methods Data collection was undertaken by pharmacists across two hospitals. Standards were based on the new guidelines published by SACN and local guidelines and were agreed by the clinical lead paediatric pharmacist. Data capture tools were designed in alignment with the standards and piloted. Modifications were made, exclusion criteria established and a total of 164 forms were distributed. All data collected was inputted to a database and analysed accordingly. Ethical approval was not required.
Results Of the 164 questionnaires distributed, 93 were returned (57% response rate). Less than 30% of the parents surveyed stated they had received advice on childhood vitamin supplementation (n=16 of total n=54) and only 24.5% of children (n=25 of total n=102) were receiving a form of vitamin supplementation. A significantly higher percentage of pregnant/breastfeeding mothers 77% (n=30 of total n=39) stated they had received advice regarding vitamin supplementation. In these cases, midwives and health visitors most commonly provided the advice. Despite this, only 54% (n=21) confirmed that they were taking vitamin supplements.
Conclusion With such low rates of vitamin supplementation, the overall outcome shows poor adherence to current guidance. The results suggest a great need to improve public understanding and education of the risks associated with lack of vitamin D. Standardising practice, enhancing services and the advice provided to patients are ways to encourage compliance to guidelines and ultimately improve the health of those populations who are at risk.
Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN). Vitamin D and health. London: TSO; 2016.
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