Local families continue to benefit from free vitamins

Familes and pregnant women in the Western Isles have been taking advantage of the Healthy Start Vitamin Drops and Tablets for Pregnant Women, which have been provided free of charge by NHS Western Isles since 2010.

With over 2,300 children aged from six months to four years eligible for the drops, more than 6,500 vitamin drop bottles have been issued over the past two years.

Furthermore, approximately 3,000 bottles of tablets have also been issued to pregnant women since 2010. NHS Western Isles is currently one of a handful of Scottish NHS Boards to provide the Healthy Start vitamins and drops free of charge to families, regardless of income.

With the recent rise in conditions such as rickets and osteoporosis within the UK, related to Vitamin D deficiency, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns said: “Health professionals can make a significant difference to people’s health by making those at risk aware of how important it is to make sure they get enough Vitamin D, and how they can get access to these important daily supplements.”

The main source of Vitamin D is sunlight but this can be hard to get enough of due to the lack of sunlight in the northern hemisphere. Those specifically at risk of Vitamin D deficiency are pregnant and breastfeeding women, children aged under five years, those over 65 years, people with low exposure to the sun and those with darker skin.

Healthcare professionals in the Western Isles continue to encourage local parents to ensure that they take up the offer of their free Vitamin Drops.

Tina Burgess, NHS Western Isles Health Promotion Department, said: “The vitamin drops can be given with liquids such as milk or water and each bottle lasts for eight weeks. Unless infants are drinking 500ml (a pint) or more of infant formula milk a day, it is sensible to give them Vitamin Drops with Vitamins A, C and D from six months to five years of age.”

Mums-to-be can collect their tablets from their local Maternity Department or Midwives, and families can collect their Vitamin Drops from their Family Health Visitor or from their local GP surgery.

The recently updated parenting Western Isles website (www.parentingwi.scot.nhs.uk) has the email and telephone contact numbers of all Family Health Visitors and Maternity Departments. If parents are experiencing any problems accessing the vitamins please contact Tina Burgess or Marissa MacLennan, Health Promotion, Stornoway Health Centre, tel. 01851 701545.