Vitamin D deficiency major problem in the UK and is linked with ‘sudden infant death’

The BBC here in the UK has had a recent blitz on stories relating to vitamin D, particularly vitamin D deficiency in children and its potential to cause rickets (and the characteristic weakened, deformed bones prone to fracture). However, some doctors are suspicious that vitamin D deficiency may be an underlying factor in ‘sudden infant death’.

Here is a link to an item which aired yesterday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. There are comments from individuals within this item that leave one with the distinct impression that many health professionals are unaware of the issue of vitamin D deficiency in children. A lawyer who represented parents who were wrongly accused killing their child (who after death was diagnosed with rickets) tells of how a senior radiologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital (generally regarded as the UK’s ‘best’ children’s hospital) failed to recognise rickets or the importance of vitamin D.

The item features Dr Marta Cohen (from Sheffield Children’s Hospital) who has discovered vitamin D deficiency in 75 per cent of children who had died of sudden infant death syndrome. This does not mean that the vitamin D deficiency caused any or all of these deaths. Nevertheless, there are ways in which vitamin D deficiency might cause death, and it’s clearly valid for vitamin D deficiency to be considered in children who appear to have suffered abuse or have died suddenly.

Recently, the BBC featured paediatrician Dr Benjamin Jacobs who is seeing increasing numbers of children with rickets where he works at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital here in the UK (video below).

Dr Jacobs makes the point that doctors are often failing to recognise and treat rickets appropriately. Dr Jacobs is quoted here as saying:

There are many other children who have less severe problems – muscle weakness, delay in walking, bone pains – and research indicates that in many parts of the country the majority of children have a low level of vitamin D.

It’s obviously not a good thing that so many children may be suffering from compromised health and possibly lose their lives as a result of vitamin D deficiency. What is good, though, is that this issue is getting mainstream attention, and that some dedicated individuals are doing what they can to raise awareness of this issue.

14 Responses to Vitamin D deficiency major problem in the UK and is linked with ‘sudden infant death’

  1. jake3_14 27 January 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    On a relevant tangent, popping Vit. D3 supplements may shortchange you, because the supplements are unsulfated. Read Dr. Stephanie Seneff’s theories on this topic:

  2. svetlana 27 January 2012 at 7:38 pm #

    Thanks John for highliting the problem,we run a children centre and spend a lot of time outside but what else should we do? Are any food which can boast the absorption of it? many thanks

  3. Steve Hines 27 January 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    should we supplement children then? If so at what dose?

  4. Shirley Bright 27 January 2012 at 8:21 pm #

    When my children were babies (in the late sixties and early seventies) I, along with most of my contemporaries, would put them OUTSIDE in the FRESH AIR to sleep every day, in the belief that both were beneficial to them. Furtheremore, most afternoons would include a walk with the baby in the pram. The “cancer from the sun” scares had not started so we never applied sun cream, itself full of potential cancer inducing chemicals. The vitamin D deficiencies now appearing were far less likely for those of my children’s generation. I feel the lifestyle of todays mothers is so much more pressured than mine was, and unfortunately they and their offspring miss out on a lot of health and happiness.

  5. Swedish 27 January 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    I’ve listen to a interesting interview with Stephanie Seneff on the Carbohydrates can kill podcast.
    She doesn’t recommend vitamine D supplement because when you expose your skin to sunshine your skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water soluble unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements which is unsulfated. Oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D will likely not provide the same benefits as the vitamin D created in your skin from sun exposure because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate.

  6. John Walker 27 January 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    I heard this interview (Not watching the screen at the time). I could be wrong but I don’t think I heard this Doctor mention sunlight and the amount of vitamin D it supplies us. It seemed to me that the resurgence of Rickets coincides with the time elapsed since we have been encouraged to keep ourselves, and our children out of the sun.light. Also significant is that Rickets in Africa seems confined mainly to areas where undernourishment is rife. Elsewhere, as one would expect, African people tend to be exposed to more sunlight than us.
    Again something is being overlooked or deliberately ignored, so the drug companies can make yet more money, supplying Vitamin D supplements, and selling sun-bloc!

  7. hilda glickman 27 January 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Children after the war were given cod liver oil as asource of vitamin D. Then it changed t drops. Now health visitors are saying they don’t need them.

  8. Liz Smith 28 January 2012 at 12:08 am #

    In all the Vit D information that we are now being flooded with in the UK I’ve never seen or heard that it should be Vitamin D3. Most of the research in USA invariably mentions the difference that it should be D 3. I commented this summer on a baby in a buggy with lovely brown legs, and that you never see lovely tanned babies, The mother was very embarrassed but I said at least your baby should be getting its Vit D3. Some of the information from places like say 4,000iu daily for children and up to 8,000iu for adults. also gives potion information too. Personally I feel better on four times that adult daily dose.

  9. 28 January 2012 at 12:27 am #

    With regard to the comment on Vitamin D3, it is the natural form made in your skin as opposed to the form made by lower plants, which is D2. They will both be metabolized to biologically active forms, however, D3 last much longer in your body than D2 before breaking down. Thus you need less of it to be effective.

    It was not clear to me from either the post or video on the level of foods fortified with Vitamin D in the UK. Vitamin D is added to cereal an milk in the US and thus readily consumed by most children to prevent diseases like Rickets.

    Most importantly is sunlight. It is by far and away your best source of Vitamin D and light skinned people can make vast quantities in very short periods of time with 10-15 minutes of sun exposure on hands and face (no sunscreen). This will only work in spring/summer/fall at UK latitudes as the sun is too weak in the winter. It can then be stored in your liver for later use. So don’t be afraid to do short periods of old fashioned sun bathing.

  10. Cybertiger 28 January 2012 at 1:54 am #

    The baby referred to in the ‘Today’ program was Jayden Wray, who died in July 2009. His young parents were accused of his murder. However, the trial at the ‘Old Bailey’ collapsed last month after 6 weeks and nearly 60 expert testimonies.

    The child had rickets. The young, dark-skinned, breast feeding mother, Chana Al-Alas, was also found to be Vitamin D deficient. The treatment and trial of these two young people was positively medieval,

    “The injured baby was rushed to hospital where doctors said he could not survive. Three days later, paediatricians at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London switched off his life-support machine. So certain were doctors and police that Jayden had been hurt by his parents that the couple were barred from their son’s bedside before he died.”

    It seems clear that this obscene trial was simply a cover for medical negligence of the grossest kind. Trials like this have happened before … and sadly they will happen again … at vast cost … not only financially.

  11. Mary 28 January 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    How sad to hear of another terrible implication of Vit D deficiency.
    Having just watched the video I do wonder exactly how long it is going to take to reverse those children’s Vit D deficiency with a one a day kids chewable multivitamin. So even when the problem has been discovered a real solution has not been provided.

  12. Dr John Briffa 28 January 2012 at 7:56 pm #


    I thought exactly the same thing, and am praying that the management of these children is more aggressive than it appears to be from the video.

  13. Paul 31 January 2012 at 5:15 pm #

    Thanks to the work of Bruce Hollis and Carol Wagner at MUSC, and the communication of this work by GrassrootsHealth.Net (including via YouTube) and Vitamin D Council, I was able to ensure that my wife was taking a vitamin D supplement both before and through pregnancy. We now both now chose continue to take 5,000IU/day.

    Some current guidelines relevant to vitamin D that I have found that refer to pregnancy, lactation and infants include: (American Academy of Pediatrics) (Endocrine Society)

    YouTube presentation by Carole Wagner entitled “Pregancy and Lactation” is also a must:

    The true cost and stupidity of the sun phobia is now beginning to emerge.

    Thanks for providing great information.


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