PREGNANT SCOTS women are “breathtakingly” deficient in vitamin D, a scientist has said.
Academics have spoken of their concern of the deficiency after a study in Aberdeen measured vitamin D levels in more than 1200 expectant mums and their newborns.
But the government funded study has not been made public and has sparked outrage among academics who are concerned for Scots mothers and their unborn babies.
The findings were discussed at a private meeting in Glasgow, late 2010, and Professor George Ebers, from Oxford University was present.
Low levels of the vitamin can cause infants to get rickets, type-1 diabetes and other immune-related diseases and the findings show that mums-to-be are not getting enough of the vitamin in their diets.
Professor Ebers said: “I have to say I was shocked. The levels of vitamin D among pregnant women were breathtakingly low.”
Last week, he questioned why the study had not been made public and demanded that Scottish ministers reveal the contents as a “matter of urgency.”
Professor Paul Haggarty who led the study in the Rowett Institute Aberdeen, has refused to discuss the study while under review.
The vitamin- known as the sunshine vitamin – is known to be vital for healthy bones and teeth as well as preventing multiple sclerosis.
Studies have shown that breastfed babies can often develop a deficiency in the vitamin as their mother’s low levels are passed on to them through the milk.
But too much of the vitamin however can lead to high calcium levels – which can cause thyroid problems – and kidney stones.
Professor Ebers said the study supports his theory that people in northernScotlandsuffer from the deficiency because of the lack of sunlight.
Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s chief medical officer, issued a letter to GP’s reminding them to educate pregnant mothers on the importance of vitamin D.
He also advised that children aged six months to five years should also take daily supplements of the vitamin.
But Professor Naveed Sattar, of the Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences at Glasgow University, however, is sceptical of such supplements.
“Where is the evidence that giving vitamin D to pregnant women is beneficial to their offspring?
“I think we’re at the point where we need robust trials- not simply observational data- to establish the impact of supplementing vitamin D levels.”
A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “All UK administrations receive expert advice on these matters from the Independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition – a subcommittee of the Food Standards Agency, which is currently reviewing advice on Vitamin D. In that context, all evidence from relevant studies will be fully considered.”