A new study published in BMJ Open has highlighted trends in the prescription of vitamin D supplements in children within the UK primary care setting.
Researchers conducted a population-based study which included children aged 0-17 years whose general practice health records were obtained from The Health Improvement Network.
A 26-fold increase in the crude annual incidence of vitamin D prescribing in children was observed between 2008 and 2016. The prescription rates were higher within general practices in England than in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Age, non-white ethnicity and social deprivation were key drivers for increased vitamin D prescribing.
25(OH)D concentrations were not available in more than 30 per cent of children prescribed vitamin D supplements annually. An increasing trend in the prescription of vitamin D supplementation at pharmacological doses regardless of 25(OH) D levels was observed with wide variations in supplementation regimens prescribed, deviating to some extent from UK recommendations. A temporal trend of a shift from ergocalciferol and combination products to cholecalciferol products was also seen.
The authors commented: "findings from our study would suggest that nationally set recommendations on vitamin D supplementation are not consistently followed by GPs, in terms of the number of patients treated, the doses used for supplementation, as well as the practice of prescribing vitamin D without appropriate testing."