Fetal and infant complications from vitamin D deficiency: who’s to blame?

Posted on: June 15, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD

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Dr. Wolfgang Hogler, at the Department of Endocrinology & Diabetes, Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Birmingham in the United Kingdom, recently authored a paper questioning who is legally responsible to see that pregnant women and infants have adequate vitamin D levels.

Högler, Wolfgang. Complications of vitamin D deficiency from the foetus to the infant: One cause, one prevention, but who’s responsibility? Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism , Volume 29 , Issue 3 , 385 – 398.

Dr. Hogler reviewed the extensive evidence that vitamin D and calcium deficiencies are harmful for the fetus and infant. Complications of these deficiencies may include life-threatening hypocalcaemic seizures, spasms, dilated cardiomyopathy, skeletal myopathy, osteomalacia and rickets. Myopathies refer to muscular diseases that result in muscular weakness. Depending on the severity of vitamin D and calcium deficiency, the associated complications may cause death.

Hogler identified geography and culture as the two main causes of vitamin D deficiency. The amount of available sun exposure is highly dependent on the geographical location. He uses the example that individuals who live in northern European cities are subject to six months of a “vitamin D winter.” Cultural and environmental factors including low calcium diets, clothing that blocks sunlight and sedentary lifestyles also contribute to vitamin D deficiency.

The author stated that health care professionals could easily prevent or treat vitamin D deficiency. Though, many health care professionals do not recognize the importance of routine screening. As a result, vitamin D deficiency is often left undiagnosed, increasing the risk of health complications for the fetus or infant.

Dr. Hogler concluded,

“The foetus and infant have the human right to be protected against harm, and vitamin D supplementation has the same public health priority as vaccinations.”

Dr. Hogler does not discuss the growing evidence that maternal and infantile vitamin D deficiencies may lead to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. I have always thought that the only way obstetricians and pediatricians will prescribe adequate doses of vitamin D is if they are charged for malpractice from failing to identify and treat vitamin D deficiency. If it is established that vitamin D deficiency causes autism, the malpractice attorneys will swarm like sharks to blood.

3 Responses to Fetal and infant complications from vitamin D deficiency: who’s to blame?

  1. Perhaps those with the biggest malpractice targets on their backs might be dermatologists, for it is they who have defined the mantra, “fear the sun”, and caused the entire medical community of not only the US but much of world to chant it continually. It is unfortunate that the set of humans MOST LIKELY to follow a health professional’s (mal)advice on health are those fostering a new life within.

  2. A belated thought: What of the destruction of families, wrought by the missed-diagnosis of rickets in the E.D. when child protective services mal-concludes there is physical abuse instead of iatrogenic injury? The health professionals that caused that condition in the first place are never present to witness the horrorshow they’ve promulgated.

  3. Rebecca Oshiro said on

    “The foetus and infant have the human right to be protected against harm, and vitamin D supplementation has the same public health priority as vaccinations.” That is a VERY strong statement for such an established and conservative journal. I like it!!

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