Page last updated at 08:47 GMT, Monday, 7 December 2009

Schoolboy Ryan McLaughlin wins vitamin D campaign

Ryan McLaughlin
Ryan McLaughlin became the face of a YouTube campaign
Pregnant women are to be educated about the importance of taking vitamin D supplements thanks to a campaign by a 14-year-old Glasgow schoolboy.

Ryan McLaughlin, whose mother Kirsten has multiple sclerosis, took his case to the Scottish Parliament's petitions committee earlier this year.

He believes taking vitamin D can help prevent the condition.

In a written response, the Scottish government said it would put in place an action plan to increase awareness.

It said recent research had found there was an "urgent need" to provide information to all health professionals who work with pregnant women and young children about current guidance on vitamin D.

"There is also a need to educate women about the importance of taking vitamin D supplement when pregnant and the importance of giving their children a vitamin D supplement until the age of four," the response added.

These actions will make a big difference to the health of generations of Scots
Ryan McLaughlin

The Scottish government will now agree a co-ordinated programme of action with NHS Health Scotland, and has pledged to keep the McLaughlins informed of developments.

Mrs McLaughlin, a former European Taekwondo champion, was diagnosed with MS two years ago.

Ryan, from Drumchapel, said: "I am so happy to hear that the Scottish government are being so proactive and really getting behind my campaign.

"These actions will make a big difference to the health of generations of Scots, and it will go a long way to giving Scots children some protection against disease caused by vitamin D deficiency and gives parents proper advice.

"I am now looking forward to the summit next year when we'll hopefully be able to tackle the recommended levels but this is such great news."

Fortified milk

Ryan became the face of a YouTube campaign to publicise the use of vitamin D, and led hundreds of supporters down Edinburgh's Royal Mile to Holyrood before he put his proposals to the petitions committee in June.

He told MSPs research into the genetic effect of vitamin D deficiency showed a link to the development of MS. Vitamin D, which the body needs for healthy, strong bones is largely gained through sunlight and food.

The Scottish government has already ruled out free vitamin D supplements for all pregnant and breastfeeding women, and said there were no plans to introduce the supplements in the form of fortified milk or other drinks at school.

Scotland is thought to have the highest rate of MS in the world.

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