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Vitamin D deficiency alert over musculoskeletal problems

GPs have been warned to be on the look out for vitamin D deficiency following an increase in cases of musculoskeletal problems.

Vitamin D deficiency is a particular problem for minority ethnic groups and especially the growing Somali community, researchers warned.

Their study, published in July's British Journal of General Practice, reported 299 cases of vitamin D deficiency in four Bristol practices over just 18 months. Meanwhile, paediatricians at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee revealed they had diagnosed vitamin D deficient rickets in five infants in the past four months.

Certain patients are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency because of pregnancy, skin colour or reduced exposure to sunlight, but very few are taking supplements, researchers from the University of the West of England found.

Study author Dr Julie Mytton, specialist registrar in public health, said: 'One hundred and seven Somali women were at high risk due to their black skin and likelihood of wearing clothes fully covering the skin, but only one was taking supplements.'

'GPs should consider a diagnosis of vitamin D deficiency in any patient presenting with chronic musculoskeletal pain, especially if from black African ethnic groups.'

Confusion surrounds UK policy on use of vitamin D supplements in pregnant women, with NICE concluding it was not necessary.

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