A campaign has been launched to ensure pregnant women and young children get enough vitamin D following an explosion in cases of the 19th century disease rickets.
There has been a four-fold increase in the bone disease - which has been relatively uncommon in the UK since the Victorian age - over the last 15 years, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said.
Poor intake of vitamin D is also resulting in higher incidences of diabetes, tuberculosis and multiple sclerosis, they said.
Now doctors have called for widely available and low-cost supplements and the fortification of foods with vitamin D to stem the problem across the UK.
The RCPCH said there also needed to be a greater knowledge among healthcare professionals and better public awareness about vitamin D-related disease.
Professor Mitch Blair, officer for health promotion at the RCPCH, said: "We know vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem - and localised research reveals startlingly high levels of vitamin deficiency amongst certain groups including children.
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