Last update 3/28/2012 1:41:07 PM (GMT+7)

Children need more sunlight, parents told

VietNamNet Bridge – Vitamin D deficiency among children had increased recently as parents tended to keep them from spending time in the warm sunlight, nutritional experts have said.

Children play at an amusement area in Phu Lam Park in HCM City. Nutritional experts say that children might suffer rickets and poorly shaped legs if lacking exposure to the sun. (Photo: VNS)

According to statistics of the National Institute of Nutrition, 29.3 per cent of under-five-year-old children who received check-ups at the institute in 2007 suffered from rickets, a disease in which bone tissues don't properly mineralise, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities. At that time, about 100 children were seen at the institute each day.

By last year, the percentage reached 45.5 per cent, with 150 children receiving check-ups at the institute daily.

Tran Thi Thu Huyen, a mother from Ha Noi's Hoan Kiem District, said that her three-year-old daughter had been diagnosed with rickets which made her grow slowly and distorted the shape of her legs.

Huyen said she often made her daughter stay inside because she was afraid the little girl would be sick if she went out too much.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Ha My, a mother from the northern port city of Hai Phong, said she frequently opposed her mother-in-law when she wanted to take her son out sunbathing.

"Now I regret my actions after doctors informed me my son has rickets and poorly shaped legs because of his lack of exposure to the sun," she said.

Phan Bich Nga, a doctor from the National Institute of Nutrition, said a growing number of children were suffering from rickets because of old customs which called for children to stay out of the sun to avoid falling sick. Many parents have recently taken to keeping their children from sitting in the sun due to the abnormal weather.

"It's unfortunate that our country is tropical and has lots of sunshine but still has a high number of children with rickets due because their parents lack scientific knowledge," she said.

Sunshine is an abundant source of Vitamin D which is very important in child development. Vitamin D deficiency would cause a child to walk late and have legs that curve outward at the knees, said Nga.

To supplement Vitamin D intake, Nga advised that parents should begin letting their children spend time in the sun in the mornings or evenings for about 10-15 minutes per day beginning at the age of two weeks, she said.

"Parents could seek advice from doctors and do their best to ensure children get daily exercise to improve their condition," said Nga.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News