In the survey, involving nearly 200 parents, researchers found that around half of the parents reported receiving no information about vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding or for their child.
23% of parents did not know why vitamin D is important for health and only 26% of parents reported giving their youngest child a vitamin D supplement on most days of the week.
The majority reported to have obtained information by proactively seeking information via a range of medical and parenting websites.
In light of these findings, the researchers say Vitamin D intake needs to be included in routine health checks.
“The willingness of parents to purchase products fortified with vitamin D suggests a potential role for these products to contribute to increasing the intake of vitamin D in children,” the study report states.
“There needs to be a national level campaign to successfully change the current practices.”
194 parents completed an online questionnaire, advertised to parents with one child aged up to 2 years on popular social media websites. The majority of participants were mothers, White-British ethnic background, aged 25–44 years.
Eighteen also participated in focus groups and a thematic analysis methodology was applied.
The findings indicated that the recommendations for vitamin D were not being followed by pregnant or breastfeeding women or parents, as levels of vitamin D supplementation were lower than they should be.
Furthermore, many parents reported a lack of awareness or confusion over the current guidelines around vitamin D supplementation (including the Healthy Start Scheme) in babies from birth, particularly in relation to breastfeeding, but also afterwards including dietary sources and the potential role of vitamin D fortified products.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham recently revealed their findings that 13.2million cases of Vitamin D deficiency could be avoided over the next 90 years is England and Wales put in place a mandatory wheat flour fortification and supplement initiative.
Vitamin D deficiency has been highlighted as a serious public health problem in the United Kingdom. One in four toddlers are not achieving the recommended intake for their healthy development.
The sunshine vitamin is essential for regulating calcium metabolism and promotes intestinal calcium absorption, and thus is essential for bone health. A low serum 25-OH-D concentration of less than 30 nmol/l has been associated with a reduction in bone mass density in children and adolescents, increased risk of rickets and hypocalcaemic seizures in young children, increased risk of osteomalacia in young and middle aged adults, and osteoporosis and fractures in older adults.
Source: BMC Public Health
“We still don’t know that our children need vitamin D daily: a study of parents’ understanding of vitamin D requirements in children aged 0-2 years”
Authors: Day. R. E., et al