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Vitamins and kids


2 Star

Vitamins and kids

Our Review Summary

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: 

  • for infants just a few days old, care and consultation in administration–to ensure adequate but safe levels–is extremely important
  • some multivitamins for young children contain these recommended amounts of vitamin D but many do not–and that parents should look at the labels of supplements they are now using
  • children with dark skin are at relatively higher risk for inadequate vitamin D levels
  • all but the most prolific and persistent milk drinkers need supplementation

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.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

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.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not quantify the projected benefits from the new recommendation.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There are risks of overdosing, though the thresholds for children of different ages are unknown.

The segment should have mentioned this.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The report is based on a formal statement, which itself is based on high-quality science and published by a very credible group.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

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. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

Although the report itself comes from a credible source, we always look for a second, independent source on all stories.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

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

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

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.


Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The segment makes clear that the call for nearly universal supplementation at this higher level is new and significant. 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


While there is a press release associated with the report, there is no evidence the segment draws directly from it.

Total Score: 3 of 10 Satisfactory


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