Do YOU know your D?

Mothers put themselves and their children at risk due to lack of medical guidance

LONDON, TUESDAY 23 JUNE, 2015 – A new survey of over 1,000 women carried out by Mumsnet, the UK’s largest network for parents,1 on behalf of Internis Pharmaceuticals Ltd., reveals that mothers and mothers-to-be are in the dark about vitamin D and the dangers associated with vitamin D deficiency and overdosing. This worrying lack of awareness means that some mothers are unwittingly putting themselves and their children at risk of serious and long-term health problems.

Despite concerns from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers about the increasing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its potential long-term impact on health,2 the survey1 found that almost 60% of mothers did not receive any guidance or information about vitamin D from any source either during or after their pregnancy.

What’s more, in the absence of any guidance, mothers appear to be taking matters into their own hands. Nearly 90% of mothers who gave their child under five a daily vitamin D supplement, sourced it without a prescription from their GP. In comparison to prescription only medicines, the under-regulated products have been shown to include variable content of vitamin D, with consistent inaccuracies in the stated dosing, not only between batches, but also between pills from the same pack.3-5

Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO said:

It’s clear from the discussions on Mumsnet that lots of mothers aren’t sure about whether or not they need to give their babies Vitamin D. It’s a concern to hear that off-the-shelf vitamins don’t necessarily include the recommended dose for babies; as with all medical matters, the best advice is to speak to a healthcare professional.”

The survey1 not only highlights a distinct lack of awareness around the differences between off-the-shelf vitamin D and prescription vitamin D, but also the recommended dose. 86% of mothers were unaware of the recommended daily dose for their child, with some mothers under the assumption that the correct dose is 500μg – nearly 60 times more than the actual recommended dose,2 and a dose that could lead to severe toxicity and increased risk of kidney failure and long term health problems.6

In contrast, a lack of vitamin D can also lead to serious health problems including bone deformities such as rickets in children and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults.7 In pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, a lack of vitamin D lowers the stores of vitamin D available for the unborn baby and newborns.2

GP, Dr Dawn Harper, commented, “The survey results suggest a gap in communication between healthcare professionals and their patients. There has been a huge government push for increased awareness about vitamin D; it’s everywhere in the news, and yet, mothers still seem confused.”

“Pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children are among the population’s most vulnerable and ‘at-risk’ groups. It is essential that GPs educate their patients about the importance of vitamin D and the pitfalls of self-medication with non-prescription vitamin D products.”

If you feel that you or your child is at risk of deficiency or getting insufficient amounts of vitamin D you should consult your GP for further information on vitamin D deficiency.

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