A coroner in London has called for all pregnant and breastfeeding women to take vitamin D.
Coroner Andrew Walker wrote a letter to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley after he held an inquest last week into the death of a three-month-old boy.
In his letter, Walker said that the boy, Milind Agarwal, was taken to the doctor in July with symptoms of a probable viral infection.
He was sent home with saline nasal drops. A later telephone consultation with another doctor led to his parents being advised to give him paracetamol.
But his mother and father still had concerns and called an ambulance. Their son was taken to Northwick Park Hospital in north London ‘’where it was recognised he was seriously unwell’.
Later, the baby died from septic inflammation of the heart against a background of an abnormal aortic heart valve.
A consultant paediatric pathologist told the coroner’s court that vitamin D deficiency played a role in progression of the infection and suggested all pregnant and breastfeeding women be prescribed vitamin D daily.
In his letter, Walker told Lansley that consideration should be given ‘to increasing public awareness of vitamin D deficiency’, the Telegraph reported.
In particular all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should receive 10mcg of Vitamin D every day, he said.
Research has previously found that pregnant women and those trying to conceive are lacking vitamin D.
Vitamin D is found in small quantities in a few foods such as oily fish, eggs and liver, and in fortified foods such as margarine, breakfast cereals and powdered milk.
But pregnant women are advised to avoid liver and liver products, raw or under-cooked eggs and to limit their intake of certain fish such as tuna.