Why Does Your Baby Need Vitamin D
Here is how vitamin D helps keep your baby healthy :
Current Status Of Babies Today
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplementing infants with vitamin D right after birth, studies show a compliance of between 2 19%. Hollis calls infant supplementation a largely failed initiative.
Below is a chart of NHANES data from the paper, Adherence to Vitamin D Recommendations Among US Infants Aged 0 to 11 Months, NHANES, 2009 to 2012
Accidentally Gave Baby Too Much Vitamin D
But what happens if you give your baby too much vitamin D?
- Since supplements of this vitamin come in drops, chances are that it is easy to overdose.
- If you gave your baby too much vitamin D, you might notice side effects such as nausea or vomiting.
- They might also lose their appetite and fill more wet diapers in a day. Other side effects of vitamin D overdose are constipation and abdominal pain.
- It is also easy to accidentally give your baby too much vitamin D, which is why it is essential to use the dropper that comes with the container of supplements.
- According to the pediatricians, your baby should receive a maximum of 400 IU of vitamin D a day.
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What To Know About Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy
Although the body produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, some women struggle to get enough, particularly moms-to-be who live in less-sunny climates or have darker skin.
While the fat-soluble vitamin can be tricky to find in food sources, taking your daily prenatal vitamin throughout pregnancy can help cover your vitamin D needs.
Unless you have a very severe vitamin D deficiency, youre unlikely to experience symptoms if your levels are low. But if you think you might not be getting enough, the best way to assess your vitamin D status is to get a blood test. Based on those results, your doctor will determine if it makes sense for you to take a supplement.
If you do have a vitamin D deficiency, your practitioner may recommend upping your intake with a daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D, either in a supercharged prenatal or as another supplement.
As with all vitamins and supplements in pregnancy, you should never take anything without first discussing it with your practitioner. Some nutrients, including vitamin D, can be dangerous in very high doses.
Vitamin D Deficiency And Breastfeeding
Infants who are exclusively breastfed but who do not receive supplemental vitamin D or adequate sunlight exposure are at increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency and/or rickets,. Infants with darker pigmentation are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, a fact explained by the greater risk of deficiency at birth and the decreased vitamin D content in milk from women who themselves are deficient.
Although vitamin D concentrations can be increased in milk of lactating women by using large vitamin D supplements, such high-dose supplementation studies in lactating women have not been validated and demonstrated to be safe in larger, more representative populations of women across various parts of the world. Recommendations to universally supplement breastfeeding mothers with high-dose vitamin D cannot be made at this time. Therefore, supplements given to the infant are necessary.
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What Is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a compound that is naturally produced by the body when exposed to sunlight.
There are two types of vitamin D:
- vitamin D3 also called cholecalciferol
- vitamin D2 also known as ergocalciferol
Vitamin D3 is produced within the body. A compound called 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin absorbs sunlight and forms the previtamin D3. This passes through the bloodstream to the liver and then the kidneys for further processing it then transforms into the active vitamin D .
Plants and fungus synthesize vitamin D2 on exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D2 is usually present in the supplements although vitamin D3 supplements also exist.
Vitamin D2 has to pass through the same biochemical reactions as vitamin D3 to convert into active vitamin D.
What Are The Risk Factors For Vitamin D Deficiency
The following factors increase the chances of a baby developing vitamin D deficiency:
- Low sunlight exposure: The single major risk factor is little exposure to sunlight. Babies who do not get enough sunlight tend to have low levels of vitamin D in the body. You may not take newborns out in intense sunlight, but older infants and toddlers can certainly spend some time out under the sun.
- Skin color: Individuals with darker skin tone tend to synthesize lesser vitamin D on exposure to the sun than those with lighter skin tone.
- Exclusive breastfeeding: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk is low in vitamin D . It means infants who are exclusively breastfed run the risk of developing the deficiency.
- If the mother is deficient in vitamin D: Vitamin D status of the baby depends on that of the mother. If the baby is not producing enough vitamin D from sunlight and even the breast milk is deficient in vitamin D, it might hamper the growth and development of the baby.
The good news is you can prevent vitamin D deficiency.
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How Much Vitamin D Should My Baby Receive
- Babies who are breastfed should get 400 IU per day. If they have one or more risk factors listed above , they require an additional 400 IU/day.
- Babies in northern communities or who have other risk factors should get 800 IU per day, year-round.
If you arent sure about the right amount to give your baby, talk to your health care provider.
Vitamin D Your Baby And You
It is a known fact that human milk is the superior infant food. Human milk is the most complete nutritionally, immunologically, and is the only food designed specifically for your baby. Given that it is expected to be perfect, you may be confused about why your babys doctor is encouraging you to give your breastfed baby vitamin D supplements.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics amended its recommendation regarding vitamin D supplementation of infants and children. The current recommendation reads:
A supplement of 400 IU/day of vitamin D should begin within the first few days of life and continue throughout childhood. Any breastfeeding infant, regardless of whether he or she is being supplemented with formula, should be supplemented with 400 IU of vitamin D. :1142-52)
Why is vitamin D important?
Vitamin D is a key nutrient in the maintenance of bone health in children and adults. Because vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption in the body, vitamin D deficiency is marked by such conditions as rickets , osteomalacia , and can lead to osteoporosis if left unchecked longterm. While researchers are still working to prove a cause-and-effect relationship between low levels of vitamin D and other health issues, anecdotal and epidemiological correlations have been found between vitamin D insufficiency/deficiency and the following:
I spend a lot of time outside. Surely Im not deficient in vitamin D.
Should I supplement my breastfed baby with vitamin D?
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How Do You Give Vitamin D Drops To Baby
Infant vitamin D drops are concentrated, so you only need a small amount to get 400 IU. To give it to your baby, you can:
- Place the dose directly in her mouth when shes relaxed, such as during her bath or while holding her. Aim for the inside of her cheek, not the back of her throat.
- Mix the vitamin D drops in with babys formula or expressed breastmilk in a bottle.
- Put the drop directly on your nipple before breastfeeding. This works best if the dose is only one drop.
Always use the dropper that came with the drops and fill it as prescribed. You may not need to fill the entire dropper.
What Contributes To Vitamin Deficiency
At this time, 40-60% of the entire U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, including pregnant women. The reasons for this widespread deficiency are many, and to begin to unfold this issue you can start with understanding there is a very short list of foods that contain vitamin D.
These foods are egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil, however, most vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk. For 75% of the population that is lactose intolerant, fortified milk products are not a reliable source of vitamin D consumption.
Additionally, many factors influence the bodys ability to make and absorb vitamin D. These factors include: where you live, the season, how much time you spend outdoors without sunscreen, skin pigmentation, age, obesity, pollution, and having healthy intestines with optimal absorption capacity. These factors come in to play because Vitamin D is actually a hormone and needs sunlight, in order for the body to manufacture it properly.
At this time, a large part of the U.S. population falls into one, or more, of these categories:
- Uses sunscreen
- Is a senior citizen , so it is not surprising that vitamin D deficiencies have risen to such proportions.
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How To Use Vitamin D Drops For Your Baby
Of course, it isnât possible or safe for your baby to swallow a pill for vitamin D! Instead, your baby will get a liquid version of this nutrient. Using vitamin D drops for newborn babies is quite simpleâall you need is the liquid supplement and the dropper that comes with it. Hereâs what to do:
Read the directions carefully. Always start by reviewing the amount of vitamin D to give your baby and following the directions on how to measure and administer the appropriate dose. Be sure not to exceed the recommended dose.
Release the liquid into your babyâs mouth. To administer vitamin D drops for your baby, release the liquid onto the tongue or sides of the mouth. Donât put the drops into your babyâs throatâthis could cause discomfort and even lead to coughing or choking.
Vitamin D drops are handy for wriggly babies, and particularly helpful when caring for premature babies or fussy teething babies.
Babies Need A Vitamin D Boost
Because a typical mothers breast milk does not give her baby enough vitamin D, breastfed babies need vitamin D supplementation. Either the baby can be given drops of 400 IU a day directly or the mother can take 5,000 IU a day , which will fortify her milk with enough vitamin D for the baby. We call this super milk!
Although all standard infant formulas are fortified with vitamin D, vitamin D supplementation is also recommended for formula-fed babies. A baby would need to drink a quart of formula each day to get the recommended amount of vitamin D, Dr. Levine says, and young infants may not take in that much. Consult with your babys pediatrician or healthcare provider to make sure they are getting all the vitamin D they need.
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Is There Any Test To Check The Babys Vitamin D Levels
Yes. If your doctor suspects that the baby has low levels of vitamin D, then they can check it through a blood test .
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, muscles, and the circulatory system. It is also crucial for keeping the babys immune system in top-notch condition. While vitamin D is always available through sunlight, we cannot expose infants to sunlight for long due to the risk of sunburns.
Should Pregnant Women Take Vitamin D Supplements
How much vitamin D you get while youre pregnant will affect how much vitamin D your baby has at birth. A baby born to a mother who is vitamin D deficient is more likely to also have a deficiency.
You are more likely to be vitamin D deficient if:
- you dont use products like milk and margarine, which in Canada are fortified with vitamin D.
- you don’t have much exposure to the sun.
- your skin is covered with clothing or sunscreen much of the time.
- you have darker skin.
- you live in a northern community .
If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether a supplement of up to 2000 IU/day is right for you.
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More Advice For New Parents Like You
Its critical to supplement vitamin D for babies. If your infant is vitamin D deficient, he or she could suffer from negative health consequences like stunted growth, increased respiratory infections, or even rickets.
Are you struggling to find the best vitamin D supplementation routine for your baby? The Pediatric Center is here to help. Contact us today to set up an appointment and finally get the answers you need.
Pregnancy Vitamin D And The Foetus
A Cochrane review in 2002 concluded that there are limited data available regarding maternal vitamin D requirements during pregnancy, despite the fact that maternal vitamin D concentrations largely determine the vitamin D status of the foetus and newborn infant. With restricted vitamin D intake and sunlight exposure, maternal deficiency may occur, as has been documented in a number of studies. It is important to note that women with increased skin pigmentation or who have little exposure of their skin to sunlight are at a greater risk of vitamin D deficiency and may need additional vitamin D supplements, especially during pregnancy and lactation. Adequate nutritional vitamin D status during pregnancy is important for foetal skeletal development, tooth enamel formation, and perhaps general foetal growth and development. There is some evidence that the vitamin D status of the mother has long-term effects on her infant.
These data suggest that doses exceeding 1000 IU of vitamin D per day are necessary to achieve 25-OH-D concentrations of > 50 nmol/l in pregnant women,. The significance of these findings for those who care for the paediatric population is that when a woman who has vitamin D deficiency gives birth, her neonate also will be deficient.
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Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
Risks Of Low Vitamin D Levels
In severe cases, low-levels of vitamin D can cause rickets or osteomalacia in children.
Rickets is a condition that leads to soft bones. It can cause severe bone deformities such as bowed legs and spine curves.
Rickets in adults is known as osteomalacia or soft bones. This can cause frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness and bone pain.
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Risks For Babies Who Lack Enough Vitamin D
When babies lack enough vitamin D, one potential consequence is weakened or softened bones. This can make a babyâs legs appear curved or bowed. Keep in mind that bowlegs are actually common in babies and toddlers but that this condition usually corrects itself before the age of 2. Bowlegs in babies and young toddlers is within the range of normal development and thought to be related to the tightly curled up position of babies in the uterus.
However, there are symptoms and conditions, including rickets, that can result from extreme vitamin D deficiency, and can hinder your childâs physical development. These may include:
extreme curvature in the legs
one leg curving more than the other
bowlegs becoming worse after 2 years of age
knock-knees after 7 years of age
Additionally, researchers have found correlations between vitamin D deficiency and certain diseases and conditions that could occur as babies get older and reach childhood or adulthood, such as
colon, breast, or prostate cancers
respiratory and viral infections
autoimmune conditions, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Although these diseases and complications sound scary, remember that they are rare. With the right supplementation, your baby will get the necessary nutrients to stay strong and healthy! If you have any questions or concerns, consult your childâs healthcare provider.