Even exclusively breastfed infants need vitamin D supplements

Many breast-fed children may not get enough vitamin D because their mothers prefer not to administer them any supplements, according to a recently published study, informs Reuters.

Pediatricians recommends that mothers feed their babies exclusively breastfeeding them until reaching the first six months of life, because it may reduce the risk of ear and respiratory infections and the occurrence of the syndrome of sudden infant death, allergies, childhood obesity and diabetes.

Because in general, breast milk does not contain a sufficient amount of vitamin D needed to develop a perfectly healthy skeletal system, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers with infant children to manage their daily supplements of 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D.

Alternatively, breastfeeding women can take vitamin D supplements themselves – generally between 4,000 and 6,000 IU per day. Thus, breast milk will contain a sufficient amount of vitamins.

To reach these conclusions, American scientists conducted a study on 184 women who breastfed their babies. Out of these, 44 gave their children infant formulas in addition to breast milk. In total, only 55% of women reported that their babies were given vitamin D supplements and only 42% of them administrated their infants the recommended dose.

“Many women were not aware of the need to administrate their children vitamin D or their doctor had not recommended them supplementation formulas”, said the leading author of the research, Dr. Tom Thacher, a scientist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, United States.

Severe deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets, bone disease called soft bone disease, seizures caused by low calcium levels or heart failure.