France has taken action to suspend the sale of a vitamin D supplement, Uvesterol D, following the death of a 10-day old baby who died on 21 December after being administered a dose of the supplement – a popular brand of vitamin D supplement which is only available in France, and is widely prescribed for treatment of vitamin D deficiency amongst young children in the country.

According to the national medical safety agency (ANSM), “only Uvesterol D administered with a pipette is involved” in this move.

Alerts against Uvesterol D were previously raised

The newborn was allegedly given a dose of the oral liquid supplement, administered via a plastic pipette. Immediately after, the baby reportedly showed signs of suffocation and died from a cardio-respiratory arrest two hours later.

According to the national medical safety agency (ANSM), it had previously issued warnings on the method of administration of Uvesterol D after several cases of serious illness were documented, particularly among premature newborns and babies under the age of one month.

The agency added that in 2006, measures were imposed to reduce risks from taking Uvesterol D, and Crinex, the producer of Uvesterol D, changed the pipette to prevent the oily liquid supplement – which has been cited by the French daily Le Monde to being different from other forms of liquid vitamin D – from being administered too quickly.

In 2013, the ANSM then issued warnings to parents, urging them to reduce the recommended dosage and administer the supplement in a drop-by-drop manner with the baby in a semi-sitting position, before he or she has fed.

However, there had been no reports of mortality caused by consumption of Uvesterol D since it was made available in the market in 1990, until December.

Newborn’s death likely due to method of administration

While the country’s medical safety agency posited a “probable link” of the newborn’s death to the particular supplement, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that “it is the specific way the product is administered that presents risks,” adding that the danger was not by consuming vitamin D supplements in general.

As a precautionary measure, Touraine has urged parents to no longer administer Uvesterol D to their children.

“I want to reassure parents who have given vitamin D, in whatever form, to their children: they are safe”, she said, further adding that “only Uvesterol D is concerned” in this matter. MIMS

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