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Pregnant women need vitamin D supplements, experts argue

Scientists have called for all pregnant women to be given free vitamin D supplements so as to protect the health of their unborn babies.

At present, the government only offers free supplements to expectant mothers on low incomes, although official health advice calls on pregnant women to ensure that they watch their diet and take in sun so as to boost levels of vitamin D in their bodies.

However, according to a new paper from the University College London Institute of Child Health, this does not go far enough.

The report's authors argue that the UK is the only one of Europe's 31 countries not to have vitamin D recommendations in place for women of reproductive age, despite the fact that a shortage is thought to increase the risk of the baby developing diseases such as rickets.

Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, co-author Dr Elina Hypponen explained that incidences of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant British women is "unacceptably high", due partly to poor diet and a relative lack of sunlight, thereby making such supplements vital.

At the start of the month, Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children reported that the number of Scottish children being treated for conditions caused by a lack of vitamin D have quadrupled over the past seven years.

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Pregnant women need vitamin D supplements, experts argue
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