Rickets is on the rise in children in the UK and a quarter of infants are deficient in Vitamin D, according to Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer (CMO).

Davies recommended in her report last week that free vitamins should be available to all under-fives. The CMO has requested that the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) examine the economics of such a scheme.

The numbers of infants with seizures or toddlers with rickets appear to have actually increased since 2006, despite the Healthy Start campaign that encouraged vitamin D uptake by mothers and babies, particularly in inner-city areas. In the majority of London boroughs less than 10% of eligible mothers have used the free vitamins, according to reports.