This TV segment on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ new recommendation on vitamin D misses a key opportunity to educate parents more about what they should do.
At the very least, the segment should have pointed people to their pediatricians for advice about how to implement the recommendations. Ideally, it would have also reported that:
It’s easy to argue that a significant new recommendation calling for a change in parental behavior due to an important health risk deserves more airtime.
But even if we accept that no more time could be devoted to this story, it’s worth noting that rather than providing useful takeaway information the segment spends precious seconds talking about uNPRoven potential benefits and risks linked to vitamin D that are a mere footnote in the report.
That’s an example of trading consumer value for sensationalism. That’s a lousy trade.
The segment should have said costs are negligible–but that the AAP is calling for state agencies to make the vitamins available through public assistance programs.
The story did not quantify the projected benefits from the new recommendation.
There are risks of overdosing, though the thresholds for children of different ages are unknown.
The segment should have mentioned this.
The report is based on a formal statement, which itself is based on high-quality science and published by a very credible group.
By mentioning prelimary evidence that Vitamin D supplementation "might protect growing bodies from asthma, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes," the story exaggerates the potential harm of not taking vitamin D supplements and the potential benefits of taking them.
Mentioning this very inconclusive, very early evidence simply wasn’t necessary.
Although the report itself comes from a credible source, we always look for a second, independent source on all stories.
The story briefly mentions sunlight as a source of vitamin D but doesn’t discuss other sources such as vitamin D fortified milk and orange juice, as well as dietary supplements
Since vitamin D supplements are now being recommended in this higher dose from the first days of life, the segment should have mentioned how widely available these preparations are for infants of that age.
The segment makes clear that the call for nearly universal supplementation at this higher level is new and significant.
While there is a press release associated with the report, there is no evidence the segment draws directly from it.