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In this issue Dijkstra et al describe the high incidence of hypovitaminosis D (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D <25 nmol/l) amongst infants born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (latitude 52°N). Babies born to veiled or dark-skinned mothers were significantly more likely than those of white mothers to have a low 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) concentration in umbilical cord blood. Similarly, a recent study of pregnant women in the Hague found that 56–66% of women of Moroccan and Turkish descent had 25OHD levels <25 nmol/l, compared with 8% of women of Western origin.1 Given that mainland United Kingdom lies at a latitude of 50°–58°N and the populations of its large cities show similar ethnic and cultural diversity, these findings are very relevant to Britain. Indeed amongst Cardiff women from ethnic minority groups attending their first antenatal appointment, half showed a serum 25OHD concentration <20 nmol/l.2 Those of Indian or African origin were most likely to be affected, especially women who had arrived in the UK within the last 3 years. Interestingly these problems are not confined to northerly latitudes but occur in sunnier climes as well.3
We have known for over 30 years that hypovitaminosis D is common amongst pregnant women in ethnic minority groups, particularly those of Asian origin.4 Intervention studies, including a randomised placebo-controlled …
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