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Lack of “Sunshine Vitamin” cause of a Renaissance baby’s death

Nov, 2022

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Research claims the CT scan of an infant mummy died of lack of vitamin D in Austria.

A rare case of study was carried out in one part of Europe, Austria, where an autopsy scan of mummified infant showed lack of vitamin  D being the cause of death between 16th and 17th century. The infant was perhaps less than a year old who died not because of lack of food but of deficiency of sunlight on his skin. Vitamin D- is known to play a key role in shaping up the body muscles, bone, intestines, brain, immune and cardiovascular system. And the main source of Vitamin D is the sunlight, thus the name “sunshine vitamin”. In those times, it was a myth that only the peasants and the laborers class bears the sun kissed skin .Thus the aristocratic European society liked it to keep their skin porcelain white. So, they tried to keep their newborns away from the sunlight.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin by the chemical reaction of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of the sun and is absorbed by our skin. So, although the infant was from an Austrian aristocrat descendent and a “privileged child”, still, scarcity of the vitamin in his body showed acute sign of malnutrition in his body.

The body of the infant mummy was found to be draped in a silk coat. It had its hands on his stomach. The CT scan as well as the fat tissue analysis exposed several abnormalities that were with the child. The infant was overweight for his age, severe vitamin deficiency, signs of pneumonia and rickets and rib defects. However, a child’s obese stature may be because of deficiency of Vitamin D as some evidences provided in some studies. It was a case of one child from one time in one family of Europe during that period.

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