Although the next session of the Alaska State Legislature is still a couple of months away, Homer Representative Paul Seaton is working to raise awareness on an issue that he has championed for a long time.
Vitamin D has been hailed by studies worldwide as a kind of miracle antidote to a variety of health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the Alaska State legislature, Representative Paul Seaton has long advocated for increased use of Vitamin D, going so far as to keep a large container of Vitamin D supplements in his Juneau office that he is happy to pass out to visitors.
This year, he pushed hard for a bill that would be a pretty big step in his efforts – House Bill 90.
"House Bill 90 is to try to establish a baseline for newborns in Alaska," said Seaton. "It's a ... law that would take two drops of blood ... that would get tested for every baby born in the state of Alaska."
And why is it important for health care providers – and the state – to collect information about Vitamin D levels in newborn babies? For the answer, Seaton points to a recently published twenty-year study from Australia, which found that five-year-old children had an increased likelihood for language impairment if their mothers had low levels of Vitamin D during pregnancy.
Long, dark winters are at least partially responsible for low Vitamin D levels among Alaskans and that’s something that can exacerbate a variety of ailments, including Type 2 diabetes, periodontal problems and respiratory infections among seniors.
Two years ago, the state legislature unanimously passed a Seaton-sponsored resolution, acknowledging the latest science on Vitamin D and calling on Governor Sean Parnell’s administration to take action.
"We haven't had much impact there yet," said Seaton. "It seems like the Department of Health and Social Services wants to wait until the federal government tells us what to do (but) one unified thing for whether you're in southern California or Alaska doesn't make much sense."
In the meantime, Seaton says a good first step would be passage of House Bill 90, which would allow the state and health professionals to establish a good baseline of what Vitamin D levels look like among newborn Alaskans.