Detroit leads the nation with its percentage of risky births. Many babies are born sicker and arrive prematurely. Risky births are responsible for a higher rate of chronic disease and intellectual disabilities and can have significant social and financial costs. Too many children are being born with poor developmental prospects and poor long term health outcomes. Pregnant women are experiencing preventable infections, gestational diabetes, preclampsia, other health issues and in some cases dying from complications of pregnancy. Managing the complications of these births diverts limited valuable resources and adds to the fiscal struggle of many hospitals and medical centers.
Schools and agencies are also challenged with high numbers of children with developmental and poor health issues. These factors contribute to the cycle of poverty and increasingly expensive medical care by putting an excessive financial burden on families who sometimes cannot afford these costs.
There are circumstances so broad in their impact that they represent a pervasive and debilitating epidemic. This is the issue with problem pregnancies today.
A number of recent studies indicate that by adding several inexpensive supplements, vitamin d and omega 3, to prenatal vitamins, the number of risky births can be significantly reduced. One such study by Dr Carol Wagner and Dr Bruce Hollis from the University of South Carolina showed that daily supplementing with 4000iu of vitamin d can reduce problem pregnancies by up to half. D for Detroit's goal is to bring social groups and medical professionals together to help encourage optimal levels of Vitamin d and omega 3 in all pregnant women in Detroit.
Receiving regular and appropriate levels of vitamin d and omega 3 can significantly reduce infant mortality and chronic disease as well as protect the health of the mother during pregnancy. This will greatly improve the quality of life for families which in turn will have positive long term benefits to the community.
There has been a cautious approach by health care professionals in recommending vitamin d doses as high as we are suggesting. A significant number of studies, however, indicate that these levels are far below those that will cause hypercalcemia. There has been no documentation of overdosing with daily amounts of less than 10,000iu of D daily or 200 ng/ml(OH)D blood levels. In the mean time, the many chronic diseases that are now associated with vitamin d deficiency continue at unacceptably high levels including risky births.
Call to Action
Our community needs to recognize this opportunity to dramatically improve the health of women and children in Detroit. Medical professionals need to be proactive in discussing the benefits of vitamin d and omega 3 with women who are pregnant or have the potential to become pregnant. Social agencies, medical clinics and other community leaders like churches who have the ability to reach out to these women, need to understand the critical importance of this program and help communicate this message to all women of child bearing age.