The Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Executive Committee of the 18th Vitamin D Workshop (VDW), organised a joint symposium on the prevention and consequences of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and children, convening experts on vitamin D, clinicians and policy-makers. The overall aim was to identify priority areas for research and to discuss the need for global options for policy, with a focus on the prevention of rickets in infants and children and vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women. The scope and purpose were: (i) to present the WHO research strategy for health, addressing vitamin D-related public health problems and the process for the development of evidence-informed guidelines in general and how vitamin D interventions in diverse populations could be prioritised; (ii) to provide an overview of vitamin D status in children and pregnant and lactating women across the world; (iii) to review the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency in children and in pregnant women and their offspring; (iv) to understand the aetiology of vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women and children; (v) to identify and interpret biomarkers to assess vitamin D status and to consider possible clinical and biochemical screening tools for determining the prevalence of nutritional rickets in at risk groups or communities; and (vi) to provide an overview of policies and recommendations on vitamin D across the world. The format of the symposium was a composite of comprehensive scientific presentations and a panel debate with international experts on WHO guidelines, nutritional rickets, nutritional policy and consequences of vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. This paper summarizes the content and outcomes of the panel debate.
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