A British doctor has dismissed a BBC report that recently linked an increase in the number of cases of the bone disease rickets to strict Muslim dress codes.
The February 5 report referred to unnamed experts who said that the increase in rickets was due to a vitamin D deficiency from lack of exposure to the sun. The story also said that women in the Asian community who dressed traditionally appeared to be "particularly vulnerable to the disease, which is caused by a lack of vitamin D".
The story also said that pre-pubescent girls adhering to Islamic dress were also at risk.
But Dr. Rubina Khalid, a British Muslim physician criticized the BBC, saying that the story was inaccurate.
"[The report] is not only misleading and irresponsible. It borders on sensationalism and shows deep-rooted anti-Islamic prejudice," said Dr. Khalid.
"Rickets is a vitamin D deficiency disease of the children. In most cases it happens to children 2 years of age or younger. While there are ample dietary sources of vitamin D available, our bodies can also manufacture this vitamin when exposed to sun, in a process, called photolysis," she said. "The Islamic dress code for women does not apply to 2 year olds."
Dr. Khalid also stressed that only several minutes of exposure to the sun is sufficient to provide enough vitamin D and that that there were other sources including cereals, fortified milk, oils and liver.
Furthermore, she said rickets is caused by a poor diet.
"Vitamin D only acts as a regulator of calcium and phosphorous in blood and bones. If there is not sufficient calcium in the diet, vitamin D alone won't help. And you cannot get calcium from the sun's rays."
She said the report also failed to mention the harmful effects of the sun's rays which can cause skin cancer and premature aging.
"There are 40,000 new cases of skin cancer every year in the UK; more than a million in the USA. What needs to be highlighted is that, like it or not, most of these people could have avoided this tragedy, had they followed the Islamic dress code."