That claim was made earlier this week by Professor Sally Davies who is Chief Medical Officer
. According to the BBC, what she actually said
was that here there were "five more children aged up to 14 years dying each day of avoidable causes than in Sweden," something that was "'absolutely shocking.'"
Unlike the statistics thrown around by politicised "radicals" and outright loonies,
a pronouncement of that nature coming from such a highly-placed doctor has the ring of authority, but how much credence should we give it? The following have been extracted from Mortality Statistics
, 2011 - England & Wales.
In that year there were:
3,666 deaths aged 0-4, 2,123 of them boys;
3,154 of the total were aged 0 - ie 0-1 while 79 were aged 3, 71 aged 4.
This fell to 42 aged 7; 46 aged 8; 52 aged 9, 34 of the 9 year olds were boys; 231 aged 19, 159 of them boys/young men.
There were 1,288 deaths aged under 28 days.
Under aged 1, the deaths were 65 for certain infectious and parasitic diseases; 15 for neoplasm (cancers); 26 for endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases; 65 for diseases of the nervous system; 39 for diseases of the circulator system; 77 for diseases of the respiratory system.
Unlike many statistics including those issued by governments, statistics for actual deaths can be presumed to be nearly 100 percent accurate barring the odd undiscovered murder. The actual cause of death as recorded on the death certificate may be less accurate, but this relates mostly to older people. For example, if an elderly person is hit by a car, has an operation, and contracts an opportunistic infection, and if the victim is also suffering from an advanced cancer, the actual cause of death may be multifactoral. Conversely, when a young child dies, one would expect a thorough post mortem examination to reveal the primary cause.
From the above figures, the most dangerous period of a child's life is the first 28 days. It remains to be seen how many of those can be due to any sort of vitamin deficiency. It is curious that a 19 year old is more at risk from - one imagines - sudden death, than a nine-year-old. This appears to be expecially true for boys and young men, but the causes of most such deaths are beyond the scope of modern medicine. All this raises the question, where does Professor Davies get her five extra deaths a day up to age 14?
Having said that, she has identified a very real problem, especially with Vitamin D. Vitamins are by definition substances that are vital to life, and if you have a total deficiency of any one of them, you will die. No exceptions. Furthermore, vitamins cannot be manufactured by the human body. The partial exception is Vitamin D, which is manufactured partly by sunlight. At one time, Asians were born in Asia, now there is a massive India diaspora,
including in the UK, and for genetic reasons, they need more sunlight than is usually experienced here, certainly in the autumn and winter; this has been known for decades. One might expect blacks to suffer from the same problem, but they do not, at least not to the same degree. Professor Davies does not give any sort of racial breakdown but it is clear that whites are also affected in some measure, and as she points out, this is not an issue related purely to poverty.
There are different types of Vitamin D, but they are all water soluble, which means they are easily lost by the body. Vitamin D deficiency can have serious consequences for the young, including in extreme cases rickets.
So what is the solution? Professor Davies calls for free supplementation for the young. If you want to read the full version of her report for 2012 — which was published October 24 — you can find it on the relevant government website
There is though a better way to ensure we all get enough Vitamin D, that is to fortify some staple foods with them. This has in fact been done in the UK for decades, and is of course covered by law, for example, The Bread And Flour Regulations 1998
This legislation requires Vitamin B1 to be added to wheat flour but not D group vitamins. Rather than the complicated process of doctors or schools ordering and issuing vitamins to the young it would clearly be much better if the existing legislation were widened to require Vitamin D, Vitamin E and perhaps Vitamin B12 to be added to flour, and other selected foods, including "Asian" foods manufactured in Britain.