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All children should receive blood tests to measure their vitamin D levels, according to a team of experts from Johns Hopkins University. They say vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in youths that can lead to severe health issues.
The group pointed to studies, which have indicated that 10 percent of U.S. children may have vitamin D deficiency and another 60 percent have insufficient levels of the nutrient. This is a serious problem because deficiency can lead to decreased bone density, stunted growth, metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular issues.
Given the fact that the sun is the primary source of vitamin D, parents and pediatricians are urged to be extra vigilant against the problem during the winter months, when sun exposure tends to drop.
"Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem year round, but because sun exposure is critical for vitamin D synthesis and production, the winter months further exacerbate what is a perennial problem," said Dominique Long, a pediatric endocrinologist at Johns Hopkins.
A child's vitamin D levels can be assessed relatively easily with a simple blood test.
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