Boy wins NHS backing in vitamin D campaign

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NHS chiefs want pregnant women to be educated about the importance of taking vitamin D supplements.

A plan of action is to be put in place after a campaign by Glasgow schoolboy Ryan McLaughlin, 14, who saw his mother suffer with MS.

He believes vitamin D can help prevent the condition and has appealed for free supplements for children and pregnant women, taking his case to Holyrood's petitions committee.

A written Scottish Government response after a committee hearing said recent research had found an "urgent need" to provide information to all health professionals who work with pregnant women and young children about current guidance on vitamin D supplementation.

It said: "There is also a need to educate women about the importance of taking vitamin D supplements when pregnant and of giving their children a vitamin D supplement until the age of four."

The response added: "The Scottish Government will agree a co-ordinated programme of action with NHS Health Scotland and will keep the McLaughlins informed of developments."

The response said public health minister Shona Robison would be "supportive" of a summit on the issue, likely to be held next year.

Ryan McLaughlin said: "I am so happy to hear that the Scottish Government are being so proactive and really getting behind my campaign.

"These actions will make a big difference to the health of generations of Scots, and it will go a long way to giving Scots children some protection against disease caused by vitamin D deficiency and gives parents proper advice."

Giving evidence with father Alan and other witnesses on 3 November, he told MSPs research into the genetic effect of vitamin D deficiency linked it to MS.

The Scottish Government has already ruled out free supplements for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, and said there were no plans to introduce them in the form of fortified milk at school.