Healthcare bosses have been urged to step up screening for vitamin D levels in pregnant women, after a new report suggested regular testing could lower the likelihood of rickets in unborn babies.
According to BBC News, research published in the Journal of Medical Screening this week noted an increase in rates of the bone disease and warned women with dark skin and those who keep themselves covered for religious reasons are most at risk.
Dr James Haddow - an expert on pre-natal screening from the US - called on the Department of Health to ensure those individuals who are most likely to develop rickets are tested first.
"Any strategy aimed at avoiding symptomatic vitamin D deficiency in offspring would logically include assuring adequacy of maternal vitamin D," he said. "Attending to this ... has added significance for mothers who breastfeed."
Last week, a study printed in the British Medical Journal observed that more women are dying in childbirth than in previous years, with an increasing number opting to wait until later in life to attempt motherhood.