PT Health Life

What should parents do to prevent vitamin D deficiency in children?

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PT Health Life – Children with severe vitamin D deficiency are the cause of rickets – an osteoporosis in children. This will cause children to have slow motor development, muscle weakness, pain and is a risk factor for bone fractures.

1. Causes of vitamin D deficiency in children

1.1 There are many causes of vitamin D deficiency in children, the most common of which are:

– Diet: Lack of breast milk, feed babies with cow’s milk; Children eat too much flour. There is a lot of phytic acid in the flour, which will hinder calcium absorption; diet lacking in fat.

– Lack of sunlight: Cramped housing, excessive abstinence, wearing too many clothes; environment and weather such as foggy high mountains, dusty industrial zones, and reduced sunlight intensity in winter. In our country, actual records show that the practice of abstaining from sun and wind in the first months after birth has greatly influenced vitamin D deficiency in children.

– Some other causes: Children are lactose intolerant so they cannot use milk and have poor milk digestion; do not use dairy products or do not drink milk; mother has vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy; gastrointestinal diseases and hepatobiliary diseases.

Children with severe vitamin D deficiency will cause rickets.

2. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency in children

– Age: Children from 6 months to 24 months are at the highest risk of getting the disease, because this is the period of rapid bone growth.

– Premature, low birth weight babies: Due to low accumulation during the fetal period, the growth rate is fast.

– Illness: Children suffer from infectious diseases (pneumonia, prolonged diarrhea…), chronic diseases (hepatitis, cholestasis, Crohn’s disease…).

– Mothers lack vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

– Skin color: People of color are susceptible to rickets, because skin pigmentation also affects ultraviolet radiation.

3. Signs of vitamin D deficiency in children

Most children with vitamin deficiency do not show symptoms, so this condition is easy to miss. Parents need to pay attention to some of the following signs to recognize if their child has vitamin D deficiency:

Rickets – slow growth: This is the most visible sign in children with vitamin D deficiency, however if this sign is detected, your child’s vitamin D deficiency is relatively severe and long lasting. In this case, it is necessary to take the child to a specialist for proper nutritional advice and recovery as soon as possible. According to  actual records, vitamin D deficiency in children not only causes rickets, but also prevents growth in height and bone density. Children lacking vitamin D are  at risk of  malnutrition, stunting and slow bone development. Research on girls shows that those without vitamin D deficiency are taller than those with vitamin D deficiency.

Bone deformities: Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to soft bones, bones can bend and cause deformities such as kyphosis, bowed legs or X-shaped legs…

Tooth decay : This is one of the earliest signs of vitamin D deficiency in children. Weak teeth and immune problems make children more susceptible to tooth decay than normal.

Muscle pain and weakness: Some children lacking vitamin D may have bone pain and muscle weakness. Children are often uncomfortable, cry every time they are held and have difficulty performing movements due to muscle weakness (for example: cannot turn over, have difficulty raising their head…)

Calcium deficiency: Vitamin D deficiency can cause calcium deficiency, leading to muscle cramps in children. Low calcium can also cause seizures, especially in young children.

4. What should parents do to prevent vitamin D deficiency in children?

Natural sources of vitamin D from food are very few, mainly in fish fat, liver and oil of salmon, mackerel, chicken eggs…

The source of vitamin D absorbed from food only accounts for about 10% of the body’s needs, the main source of vitamin D (90%) is synthesized by the body when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight.

To prevent vitamin D deficiency, in addition to supplementing vitamin D,  children should sunbathe and increase physical exercise. Just exposing your hands and feet for 5 to 30 minutes to sunlight (depending on time of day, season, latitude and skin color), 2 – 3 times a week is enough vitamin D needed for health. body.

Therefore, parents need to let their children sunbathe every day from the 2nd week after birth. When sunbathing children, it is necessary to ensure factors such as a sunny, airy location, each sunbathing time is about 15 minutes, done 1-2 times/day in the morning before 8:00 a.m. or in the afternoon after 4:00 p.m. . Try to expose your child’s skin to as much sunlight as possible, but avoid direct sunlight on the head and eyes.

Finally, in cases where children have severe vitamin D deficiency, they can be supplemented with low-dose (daily) or high-dose (monthly or less frequent) vitamin D tablets. However, the use of these drugs needs to be strictly followed by a doctor’s instructions.

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