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1.6 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone, a group of fat-soluble pro-hormones, which encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous. The requirement for the nutrient is high at particular stages of the lifecycle especially during pregnancy and infancy. Severe vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy may increase the risk of developing preeclampsia and gestational diabetes in pregnancy and rickets in the child. While vitamin D supplementation has been a policy recommendation in Ireland since 2007, at the time of this study, it was not a policy recommendation in Saudi Arabia. The present quantitative cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine the prevalence of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy as well as to infants 0-3 years of age among Muslim mothers living in Ireland and in Saudi Arabia. Seventy seven Muslim mothers living in Ireland were recruited from the Islamic Culture Center of Ireland while one hundred and twenty one Muslim mothers living in Saudi Arabia were recruited from three hospitals in Makkah. Only 28.6% (22/77) of the Irish cohort mothers and 7.4% (9/121) of the Saudi mothers had taken vitamin D supplements during their pregnancy. While 62.3% (48/77) of the Muslim mothers in Ireland and 37.2% (45/121) in Saudi Arabia were aware of the recommendation to give a daily vitamin D supplements to their infants until they were one year of age just 49.4% (38/77) living in Ireland and 13.2% (16/121) from Saudi Arabia did so. While a majority of mothers living in Ireland (53.2%; 41/77) and Saudi Arabia (37.2%; 45/121) were spending more than 30 minutes a day outside, protective clothing that completely cover the body was worn by the entire sample (100%), sunscreen was used by 44.2% (34/77) in Ireland and 53.7% (65/121) in Saudi Arabia. Poor vitamin D supplementation practices are evident among Muslim mothers and infants both in Ireland and Saudi Arabia. To improve this situation, mothers should be educated about the importance of vitamin D during pregnancy and infancy.
Khadrawi, I. : Vitamin D Supplementation Practices during Pregnancy and Infancy among a Sample of Muslim Women in Ireland and Saudi Arabia. Master Thesis, Dublin Institute of Technology, 2013.