Why Is Vitamin D Important For Babies
Vitamin D is crucial for the health of your babys bones and teeth. Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to a brittle bone disease called rickets, says Dr. Liermann. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and utilize it to form and strengthen bones. Without vitamin D, a child is more prone to fractures and growth problems.
The body also needs vitamin D for brain development and immune system health. Vitamin D is necessary for so many functions, and its hard to get enough without a supplement, says Dr. Liermann.
Watch Out For Dosing Errors With Liquid Vitamin D For Infants
Infants who are breastfed or partially breastfed should receive a daily supplement of vitamin D starting in the first few days of life. Breast milk has only 25 units of vitamin D per liter . The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily dose of 400 units of vitamin D for infants. Infants who drink less than a liter of formula also may need a lower dose of a vitamin D supplement. Although formula is fortified with vitamin D, enough may not be consumed each day to get the total recommended dose of 400 units.
What To Know About Vitamin D For Babies
Most of us know about the benefits of vitamin D for bone health but may not realize vitamin Ds potential benefits for mental health, immune function, and normal brain development in our children, notes Elisa Song, MD, a holistic pediatrician.
The AAP recommends that infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D daily. This can be tricky for infants younger than 6 months old since they should be kept out of direct sunlight, a natural source of vitamin D, because theyre too young for sunscreen.
If youre feeding your baby formula sold in the United States, its fortified with enough vitamin D that a supplement isnt necessary. However, if youre exclusively breastfeeding or feeding less than 32 ounces of formula per day, pediatricians recommend giving your baby a supplement.
Even though breast milk is considered a perfect food for your growing baby, it doesnt contain enough vitamin D to support your babys needs even if you are taking a supplement yourself.
However, in some cases, moms may take a high enough supplement that direct supplementation for baby is not needed. Discuss your needs with your babys doctor. If your baby does not get enough vitamin D, they could be at risk for a vitamin D deficiency.
A review of studies published in 2013 suggests there may be a link between a vitamin D deficiency in children and an increased risk for upper respiratory tract infections, including influenza.
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How To Give Vitamin D Drops To The Baby
Giving the drops to your baby is easy and here is how you do it:
If the baby spits out some supplement, then do not re-dose.
Why Do Breastfed Babies Need A Vitamin D Supplement
But breast milk only has small amounts of vitamin D , which may not be enough to meet your babys needs. Babies who are breastfed should receive a daily supplement of vitamin D from birth until they get enough from their diet.
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When Can Babies Stop Getting Vitamin D Drops
Once your baby is drinking one liter of formula or fortified whole milk every day, they are getting enough vitamin D without drops. For formula-fed infants this could be within a few months of life but for infants who are exclusively breast fed this is not until they reach 1 year of age and are able to start drinking fortified whole milk. Ask your pediatrician when to stop giving your child vitamin D drops.
Health Benefits Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential to your newborns health. Babies who dont get enough vitamin D can develop Rickets. Rickets is a disease that softens your bones. Young children who dont have enough vitamin D can end up with bowed legs as they grow, delays in crawling and walking, and soft skulls. In recent years, rickets has become more and more of a problem in young children. Doctors are trying to combat this by recommending vitamin D drops.
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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.
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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Ways We Get Vitamin D
You and your baby can get vitamin D from a number of sources. One of the most common ways we get vitamin D is by exposure to sunlight. As you spend time in the sun, your body produces vitamin D. Throughout history, sunlight is a main way humans have gotten their vitamin D. Today you can also get vitamin D through the things you eat, or through supplements. Many foods like milk or cereal are fortified with vitamin D.
Signs Of Vitamin D Deficiency In Babies
Vitamin D deficiency isnt easy to spot in babies, partly because they cant tell you how theyre feeling. And fatigue and muscle pain, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, are common symptoms of several other conditions. In addition, signs of vitamin D deficiency may not show up until months or years later.
But doctors may check your babys vitamin D levels if your baby has:
- Frequent illnesses or infections.
- Poor growth.
- Frequent bone fractures.
Dont wait to see if your baby has symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, Dr. Liermann says. Supplement Vitamin D regularly to prevent deficiency. And if you have any concerns about your babys health, talk to your pediatrician.
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Carlsons Babys Super Daily
Since 1965, this supplement brand has been creating products that are rigorously tested by a lab thats registered with the Food and Drug Administration comforting for parents to know! It comes with an easy-to-use dropper that can provide your baby with the recommended 400 IU dose either on babys tongue or in food, formula, or bottle of breast milk.
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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Study: Many New Moms Babies Deficient
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends vitamin D supplementation of 400 IU for all breastfed babies and those who are drinking less than 1 liter a day of formula.
But pediatrician Frank R. Greer, MD, who headed the committee that came up with the new guidelines, says pediatricians are not selling the message to new parents.
I am frankly surprised that more pediatricians are not recommending supplementation, especially to new moms who are breastfeeding, he says.
The CDC study appears in the April issue of Pediatrics, along with another study, which finds a high rate of vitamin D deficiency among new mothers and their babies living in Boston.
Overall, more than half of the infants and more than a third of the mothers were considered vitamin D deficient. More than a third of the infants and a fifth of the mothers were considered severely deficient.
Study researcher Anne Merewood, MPH, says she was most surprised by the high rate of deficiency among the moms.
Many of these women were taking prenatal vitamins, but this did not ensure that they had adequate vitamin D levels, she says.
Merewood points out that supplementation may be especially important for darker-skinned people who absorb less light from the sun and for lighter skinned people who have little exposure to the sun.
Vitamin D Supplementation In Infants Children And Adolescents
CATHERINE F. CASEY, MD DAVID C. SLAWSON, MD and LINDSEY R. NEAL, MD, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Virginia
Am Fam Physician. 2010 Mar 15 81:745-748.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can have adverse health consequences, such as growth failure and rickets. In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics increased its recommended daily intake of vitamin D in infants, children, and adolescents to 400 IU. Infants who are breastfed and children and adolescents who consume less than 1 L of vitamin Dfortified milk per day will likely need supplementation to reach 400 IU of vitamin D per day. This recommendation is based on expert opinion and recent clinical trials measuring biomarkers of vitamin D status. It is also based on the precedent of preventing and treating rickets with 400 IU of vitamin D. In addition to dietary sources, exposure to ultraviolet B sunlight provides children and adults with additional vitamin D. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping infants out of direct sunlight, decreased sunlight exposure may increase children’s risk of vitamin D deficiency. No randomized controlled trials assessing patient-oriented outcomes have been performed on universal vitamin D supplementation. However, vitamin D may reduce the risk of certain infections and chronic diseases. Physicians should help parents choose the appropriate vitamin D supplement for their child.
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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.
Avoiding The Sun Or Using Sunscreen
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One type, known as melanoma, can be fatal.
Most cases of skin cancer are caused by exposure to UV light from the sun. High exposure to sunlight also leads to skin aging.
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What Supplements Do Babies Need
In most cases, children get all of the vitamins and minerals they need from the variety of foods they consume in their diet. There are, however, a handful of babies and children who may need supplements in order to make up for any vitamin deficiencies for a variety of reasons. Before making any hasty decisions to purchase or supplement with any particular vitamin, its important to get an expert opinion and check in with your pediatrician.
Vitamin D: An essential baby vitamin
While there are food sources of Vitamin D, its called the sunshine vitamin because its created by our bodies with exposure to sunlight . As most babies are protected by the sun with clothes and sunhats to prevent sunburn, they dont get the exposure they need. Additionally, with proper use, sunscreen blocks the UVB light needed for our bodies to create vitamin D, so the skin that does get exposed usually cant create adequate amounts. Beyond the use of sunscreen, if you live where theres less sun due to winter, places with higher pollution, areas with periods of prolonged sun exposure or if your baby has darker skin, they may not get the vitamin D they need.
Do formula-fed babies need to take supplements?
Do breastfed babies need to take supplements?
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
From about late March/early April to the end of September, the majority of people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin.
Children from the age of 1 year and adults need 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Babies up to the age of 1 year need 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day.
A microgram is 1,000 times smaller than a milligram . The word microgram is sometimes written with the Greek symbol followed by the letter g .
Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units . 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 10 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 400 IU.
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