HALF a million pounds should be spent in Leeds to prevent an illness associated with third world countries, according to the city’s Liberal Democrat councillors.
The Lib Dem group on Leeds City Council wants funding for free vitamin supplements for children under four.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has previously expressed concern that up to 40 per cent of young children may have less than the ideal amount of vitamin D.
A shortage of vitamin D, found in oily fish and eggs, is one of the main causes of rickets which causes bones in young children to become soft.
Rickets has largely been associated with poorer countries but recent years have seen a rise in UK cases.
Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show hospitals in the Yorkshire and Humber area recorded 32 admissions for rickets last year.
Councillor Sue Bentley, the Liberal Democrats’ spokeswoman on children in Leeds, said: “Vitamin deficiencies can cause really nasty health problems in young children. Rickets is perhaps the most prominent but we’ve seen increases in diseases related to other vitamin deficiencies too.
“Providing vitamins to young children is the cheapest and most effective way we can tackle this issue right now and I hope it’s something administration councillors will see the merit in.
“It would be nice to think that we could deal with this problem simply by getting children out in the sun more and encouraging healthy eating but I think that’s something we need to work on as a longer term solution and requires a wider cultural shift.”
The Lib Dems will propose an amendment which would see £430,000 of public health money spent on vitamins for children when the council budget is debated tomorrow.