More than 500 rickets sufferers were admitted to hospital during the past 12 months as a survey reveals 73% of pregnant women and new mums continue to be in the dark about vitamin D deficiency.

A study by Colief found just 19% of mums felt they were clearly advised by their healthcare providers (HCPs) about the childhood bone disorder and how to take vitamin D supplements.

Meanwhile, one third of the 1,000 respondents said they had never been advised on the need to take a supplement by their HCP.

The figures have coincided with a report released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) that showed there were 533 cases of rickets diagnosed in hospitals between August 2014 and July 2015.

Following the Colief investigation, child nutritionist Judy More said pharmacists are in a key position to help advise new parents.

“Pharmacists are often the first point of contact for any questions new mums may have about their child’s health, and they have an important role in educating them in the importance of vitamin D,” she said.

“Pharmacists should be recommending that all children under five, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and those aged over 65 take a daily vitamin D supplement in line with government guidelines to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D.”

The Public Health Guidance, published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), recommends pharmacists proactively raise the importance of vitamin D supplements with at-risk groups.

The HSCIC statistics show there have been 3,088 finished admission episodes of rickets in hospitals since August 2010, although some cases could be returning patients.

Dr Jumoke Thomas, a GP with over 20 years’ experience, said: “The insights from [the Colief] survey provide GPs and all other healthcare professionals with the opportunity to discuss vitamin D with parents to ensure they are aware of Department of Health guidelines and measures they can take to keep themselves and their children healthy.”