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Is it possible to prevent rickets?
Pediatricians, family practitioners, and obstetricians are responsible for educating parents (and expecting parents) about measures to prevent rickets. For the expecting mother, this includes recommending prenatal vitamins and appropriate nutritional counseling. For the new mother, it is important for her to be advised about vitamin D supplementation for exclusively breastfed babies and, as the child gets older and begins to wean, appropriate nutritional counseling, and reasonable sun exposure for the child.
Vitamin D insufficiency is increasingly being recognized as an under-detected health risk for people of all ages in the United States. Up to 30% of U.S. children are vitamin D deficient to some degree and worldwide this is a much higher percentage. In 2011,
the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a technical report titled "UV Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents" that concluded that all "infants, children, and adolescents receive vitamin D supplementation and avoid overexposure to sunlight and artificial sources due to the health risks (cancer, etc)." Currently, studies are unclear about how much vitamin D is enough in certain populations, but the current recommendation is for at least 400 IU daily.
Given the fact that vitamin D supplementation may not be readily available worldwide, more research needs to be performed to determine the "safe" amount of sunlight exposure for infants and children if we are going to successfully prevent rickets throughout the world.