Does my baby need vitamins? Researchers say yes.

For years researchers, scientists, and the CDC have recommended that new mothers who are breast-feeding supplement their diet with vitamin D. New research came out this week, from Toronto, that states that breastfed babies should also be receiving vitamin D supplements.
Why the change? 

The American Academy of pediatrics currently recommends that all children should receive vitamin D supplements for the first year of life. However, a new study out of Toronto states that children who are breastfed past he first year are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. This is because the levels of vitamin D in breastmilk are relatively low. As babies age, the levels of vitamin D do not increase to match the needs of the child.

This article from ABC health states, “Researchers found that children who were breast-fed up to 36 months and did not take supplements were more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency even though they had started eating solid foods. Children who were breast-fed up to 24 months had an estimated 16 percent risk of low levels of vitamin D. That number increased to 29 percent when the child breast-fed up to 36 months.” Part of the reason for this is because even when a child starts to eat solids, the food they are eating is not high in vitamin D.

What is a vitamin D deficiency and why is it a problem?

Vitamin D is a necessary nutrient for the body to help process calcium and build strong bones. With low levels of vitamin D an individual is at risk of poor bone health. In infants a vitamin D deficiency can lead to conditions such as rickets or bowing of the bones. 

So, what do I do now?

Many parents are wondering what this new recommendation means for them. At West Metro Doulas we always advise parents to talk with their doctor about what is right for your family. There are many infant vitamin D supplements on the market but only you will know which supplement is best for you, your family, and your baby. Your pediatrician should be able to advise you on what supplements are good and note if they have a preference. Also, when making decisions don’t forget about BRAIN.

  • Benefits: what are potential benefits?
  • Risks: what are potential risks?
  • Alternatives: what alternatives are available?
  • Intuition: what does your gut say?
  • Nothing: what if we do nothing?

If you would like more information about vitamin D supplementation for breast-feeding mothers or for children you can visit the WHO or the AAP.

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