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Action needed on rickets

6th September 2012

A Labour MP has called for public awareness to be raised over the threat of rickets.

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Kate Green has also suggested that the government is not doing enough to tackle a “shocking rise” in the number of cases.

While acknowledging that GPs had been reminded about the lack of vitamin D, which can lead to rickets – and that guidelines recommend some groups receive daily supplements of the vitamin – she wants better public communication to ensure guidance about diet and sunshine exposure is “clear, consistent and well-targeted.”

She said: “Rickets is a preventable disease, one that many of us thought firmly belonged to the past, and which we can and should take action to eradicate.”

The number of cases of rickets – where bones can become soft and deformed - has risen from 183 in 1995-96 to 762 in 2010-11.

To address the rise, medical staff have been reminded about the government guidelines and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition has been urged to review the issue of current dietary recommendations on vitamin D, which as well as being consumed through diet, can also be produced when people are exposed to regular sunlight.

However, the British Medical Association has warned of a rickets epidemic because of the lack of sun youngsters are getting exposure to.

“Knowledge among health professionals remains patchy and, in particular, their understanding of nutritional issues can be quite limited,” Ms Green said.

She was concerned that consumption of foods rich in Vitamin D, such as oily fish, eggs and full-fat dairy products, had fallen in recent years.

 

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