We all know that it’s vital to take Folic Acid during pregnancy, but have you heard about Vitamin D? Taking supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding keeps your little one’s bones strong and healthy.
If a mum is severely lacking in Vitamin D, which our bodies synthesize when we are in the sun, her baby can develop rickets. This leaves his bones brittle and vulnerable to injury. More about Vitamin D at the bottom of the page.
For a couple of years there have been low level rumblings about the return of rickets, which was once believe to be eradicated in the West by improved nutrition.
But a terribly sad story recently made the news and brought home the importance of this little discussed vitamin.
On Good Friday 2012, a young couple were finally reunited with their 17-month-old daughter who had been removed from them at birth.
Rewind three years to July 22nd 2009 when the parents, Rohan Wray and Chana Al-Alas, rush their four-month-old son, Jayden, to hospital convinced that there is something terribly wrong with him.
X-Rays show that bones throughout his body and skull are broken, he displays the classic symptoms of shaken baby. Under pressure, and with the tragic Baby P case ringing in their minds, Doctors and Social Workers contact police.
The young couple are arrested in the middle of the night at their son’s hospital bed. They are refused access to him, he dies days later – they never see him alive again.
Accused of murder, both parents are imprisoned awaiting their trial. Chana is seven months pregnant, her baby is taken from her at birth.
The murder trial commences. After six months paediatric pathologist, Dr Irene Scheimberg, is called to give evidence.
She conducts a post-mortem on Jayden’s body and finds obvious sign of rickets, including weak bones and a weak skull.
The couple are aquited, and only after another court case could their 17-month old daughter return home to them on Good Friday, 2012.
Thankfully, rickets is easily preventable with a regular dose of Vitamin D for pregnant and breastfeeding mums. The NHS guidelines say:
“You need Vitamin D to keep your bones healthy and to provide your baby with enough Vitamin D for the first few months of its life. You should take a supplement of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D each day. Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, and these are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. Not enough vitamin D can cause children’s bones to soften and can lead to rickets(a disease that affects bone development in children).
Only a few foods contain Vitamin D, such as oily fish, fortified margarines, some breakfast cereals and taramasalata. The best source of Vitamin D is summer sunlight on your skin. The amount of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D is different for every person, and depends on things like skin type, the time of day and time of year. But you don’t need to sunbathe: the amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning. If you have dark skin or always cover your skin, you may be at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your midwife or doctor if you’re worried about this.”
This extract came from the NHS site. Click here for more info.
Woman’s Hour featured an interesting discussion recently on how the NHS should tackle the Rickets problem and why some women are more at risk than others. Click here>>
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