'Give vitamin D under five'


Babies who are given vitamin D supplements may be protected against developing Type 1 diabetes in later life, according to a new study.

Paediatric researchers from Stockport NHS Foundation Trust carried out areview of a possible association between vitamin D supplementation inearly childhood and a reduced risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. Theylooked at five studies covering 6,455 European children ranging frombirth to five years old, and found that those given extra vitamin D,usually cod liver oil, had their risk of developing diabetes fall by 29per cent.

Dr Christos Zipitis, lead researcher, said, 'When we compared thechildren who were supplemented to those who weren't, the chance of themdeveloping diabetes was reduced by 29 per cent. The strength of ourstudy is that we were able to combine 6,500 subjects, so this is quite asignificant finding.

'We can say with more confidence that Vitamin D deficiency couldactually cause Type 1 diabetes.

'The pooled data also showed that the higher and more regular the doses,the lower the likelihood of developing type 1. That ties in with theobservation that countries with more and stronger sunlight have lessdiabetes.'

Dr Zipitis believes children should be taking supplements from birth tothe age of five. The current UK recommendation is until two yearsold.

'There has been a huge decline in children taking vitamin D,' he said.'In 1995, 12 per cent had supplements and by 2000 that had declined toonly 4 per cent. I'm sure it is even less now.

'In international terms, the cases of diabetes worldwide are rising by 3per cent every year. From 2000 to 2010 cases will have risen by 40 percent.'

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