This Mom never dreamed that she would be causing a vitamin D deficiency in her daughter…
We always try and do the right thing for our children, but in today’s world, we need to educate ourselves even more than ever! Is sunscreen the right thing to do for your children?
A 12-year-old girl living on the Isle of Wright in southern Britain developed a severe vitamin D deficiency verging on rickets because her mother never let her go outside without sunscreen on.
Rickets is a painful and potentially deformity-causing bone softening disease caused by vitamin D deficiency.
The body produces vitamin D upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight,
but too much time indoors or sunscreen higher than SPF 8 can prevent it from producing enough.
Twelve-year-old Tyler Attrill first began suffering pain and weakness in her legs three years ago, after a series of operations to correct an unrelated problem with her hip bones. She did not realize at the time that she was suffering the warning signs of developing rickets.
“It would make my legs feel all heavy, I couldn’t move them,” she said. “It made my whole body feel really ill and achy.”
Eventually, the ongoing pain reduced her to tears and she was referred to the Children’s Orthopedic Unit at Southampton General Hospital.
“We’ve been back and forwards to doctors and the hospital over the years, but it wasn’t until November that they did a test for vitamin deficiency,” her mother said. “We’re lucky it was caught in time otherwise it could have developed into rickets.”
Tyler’s doctor told her mother that overuse of sunscreen had probably caused Tyler’s vitamin D deficiency.
“We live right by the beach so Tyler was outside with her friends every day last summer,” Tyler’s mother said. “I’ve always been very careful with her and her brother, and nagged them to wear hats and suncreen when it’s hot. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Rickets is on the rise across England, even in sunny regions like the Isle of Wright. Concern over this trend recently caused British doctors to reverse course on decades of advice to avoid the sun; they now recommend 15 to 30 minutes of unprotected sun exposure three to five days a week.
Tyler has improved with vitamin D supplements and more time spent outdoors.
“It makes me feel guilty,” her mother said of the experience, “but parents are encouraged to use SPF 50 on their children to prevent skin cancer later in life.
“I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Never underestimate the need for vitamin D in your diet, especially in winter months!