How Do Dosing Errors Happen
Liquid vitamin D comes in different doses and strengths ranging from 5,000 units per 5 drops to 400 units per drop to 400 units per 1mL. The higher doses are intended for older children and adults the lower doses are for infants and young children. Mistakes can happen if parents accidentally purchase the concentrated, higher doses of the adult vitamin D liquid and give it to their infants.
This mistake happened just a few weeks ago. A mother unknowingly purchased the concentrated adult vitamin D supplement for her infant. The infants doctor had told the mother to give 1 mL of a vitamin D supplement to her child daily. The doctor did not tell the mother which brand of vitamin D drops to buy. He assumed she would purchase a commonly used Enfamil brand supplement, D-Vi Sol, which contains 400 units of vitamin D per 1 mL . The error was noticed several weeks later during a follow-up office visit after the infants mother showed the doctor the vitamin D supplement she was using. The infant had received at least 40,000 units of vitamin D per day because she gave the child a full dropper of the adult supplement! Fortunately, the infant was not harmed although the amount of vitamin D in her blood was very high.
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.
Why Babies Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps us to build and maintain strong bones and teeth.
Our bodies can make vitamin D from the sun. But babies cannot safely get the vitamin D they need from the sun.
Your baby needs vitamin D because:
- their skin is very sensitive to the sun and should not be in direct sunlight
- their food may not have enough vitamin D in it
- between 0 to 12 months babies grow very quickly and have a greater need for vitamin D to form strong bones
Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in helping the immune system. It may help prevent diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and some forms of cancer.
African, Afro-Caribbean, Middle-Eastern or Indian parents are more likely to have babies with low levels of vitamin D.
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Vitamin D With Sun Exposure
Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun, so it can be a great way to get vitamin D, however, there are a few caveats:
- People living in higher latitudes will not make as much vitamin D from the sunlight as people living closer to the equator.
- Those with darker skin will make less vitamin D than those with lighter skin.
- People living in places with dense cloud or smog cover will make less.
- The use of sunscreen and full clothing impairs vitamin D production however its recommended to always use sunscreen when out in the sun to prevent skin cancer.
- Children under 6 months should not be exposed to direct sunlight.
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.
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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.
What Causes A Deficiency In Vitamin D
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. The exact amount of sunlight people need to make enough vitamin D depends on their skin color, the time of day theyre outside, and the time of the year.
When ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the skin, it triggers your body to synthesize vitamin D. Once in your body, vitamin D needs to be activated through a process known as hydroxylation.
A vitamin D deficiency is usually caused by not getting enough sunlight.
Pregnant or nursing mothers dont usually get enough vitamin D to provide for both themselves and their babies. This is why babies who are exclusively breastfed are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. Breast milk contains very little vitamin D.
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Not Getting Enough Vitamin D In Your Diet
Good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish and egg yolks. However, its found naturally in very few foods.
For this reason, vitamin D is often added to certain foods and beverages, such as milk. This process is called fortification.
Even with fortified foods, many people still dont get enough vitamin D. Vegans or vegetarians are at a particularly high risk for a deficiency, as their diets may not include any fish, eggs, or milk.
I Forgot To Give My Infant A Vitamin D Drops
Its okay if you forget most days, or you didnt know to supplement your baby. Sometimes a complicated birth experience can leave you worrying about other things. Again, it is okay!
Start now. Offer a supplement today to your baby and continue to give it daily.
Vitamin D is essential in calcium absorption and metabolism. Vitamin D deficient infants can develop problems that are difficult to reverse.
Examples include: weak tooth enamel, fragile bones, slow growth, and a delay in closing of the soft spot on the head, etc.
So, sometimes forgetting to offer vitamin D drops isnt the end of the world. But these points highlight the importance of vitamin D recommendations!
Some folks , swear that they didnt give vitamin D drops to their infants. Heck, they all grew up fine, right?
Well, nutrition science has since evolved, so why not reap the benefits?
Here are suggestions to help you remember to give the supplement to your baby:
- Keep the vitamin D drops bottle near your nursing station
- Place the vitamin D drops bottle near your own medication that you take daily
- Put the vitamin D drops near your coffee machine or anything that you use daily
- Use an alarm or a daily reminder in your calendar, nothing like a beeping phone to keep you on top of it!
- Buy more than one bottle of infant vitamin D drops so you have easy access in your favourite nursing spots
The challenging part is to remember to give the supplement to baby everyday!
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Foods High In Vitamin D
Unfortunately, not many foods are naturally high in vitamin D. The best source of naturally occurring vitamin D is fatty fish like salmon or tuna. Other foods that have a small amount are whole eggs, cheese, beef liver, and mushrooms. But fortunately, many foods in the U.S. have been fortified with vitamin D, including:
- Infant formula
Vitamin D fortification is usually voluntary and will vary from brand to brand so always read a nutrition facts label to make sure.
Do Babies Really Need Vitamin D Drops
Yes, babies really need vitamin D drops. Breastfed infants dont receive enough vitamin D from breast milk alone. Your baby should receive the right amount of vitamin D for their proper childhood development!
However, there are a couple of things you should know more about when it comes to the other sources of vitamin D for your baby.
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How Much Vitamin D Does My Baby Need
According to the NHS, this is how much vitamin d we should be getting at each stage of our lives.
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.
Although our daily dose of vitamin d can normally be absorbed when being exposed to the sun on those brighter days, there are other ways we can top up our vitamin d levels when the sun isnt shining.
The government also recommends that all children aged 6 months to 5 years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, C and D every day too.
How Can I Make Sure My Child Is Getting Enough Vitamin D
Your childs age matters when it comes to cows milk. For children older than 12 months, plain whole cows milk is a great source of vitamin D.
Most cows milk sold in stores is fortified with vitamin D. For babies younger than 12 months, cows milk is not recommended because it may put your baby at risk for intestinal bleeding. It also has too many proteins and minerals for your babys kidneys to handle easily and does not have the right amount of nutrients your baby needs.
For babies who are fed onlybreast milk or who receive both breast milk and infant formula:
- Breast milk usually does not provide all the vitamin D a baby needs, so breastfed babies will need a supplement of 400 IU of vitamin D per day beginning shortly after birth.
For babies who are receiving onlyinfant formula:
- Vitamin D supplementation is not needed.
- Infant formulas are fortified with vitamin D.
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How Much Vitamin D Should I Give My Infant
Health Canada recommends to give 400 IU of vitamin D per day. This amount is enough to maintain bone health and calcium metabolism in infants.
Look on the bottle of the supplement you bought to know how much to give to baby.
Most vitamin D drops for infants are in liquid form. You dispense the supplement using a dropper. Droppers generally release one drop at a time, or a pre-dosed amount.
Either way, take the time to read the supplement label to ensure you know the right dose. This helps make sure your infant will get 400 IU/day of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements for older kids and adults often contain higher doses, up to 1 000 IU/dose.
We recommend buying vitamin D drops for infants, to ensure appropriate dosage. It makes things easier for new and sleep-deprived parents.
Also, only buy supplements with a Drug Identification Number or a Natural Product Number . These registration numbers are only assigned to products reviewed by Health Canada.
Baby needs a supplement of 400IU/d of vitamin D. Read the supplement bottle to understand how to give that dose.
D Drops Baby Liquid Vitamin D
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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.
Do A Mother’s Prenatal Vitamins Have Enough Vitamin D For Babies
Nursing moms should keep taking their prenatal vitamin while breastfeeding, but the supplement doesn’t contain enough vitamin D to meet your babys needs. Thats why breastfed babies need vitamin D drops until theyre able to get enough through their own diets. The typical prenatal vitamin only contains 600 IUs, which isnt nearly enough to cover both Mom and baby.
That said, moms who supplement with 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily have breast milk that will typically contain 400 IUs per liter or 32 ounces. But since newborn babies are unlikely to take a full feeding of breast milk, you’ll need to give them a vitamin D supplement at least at first to ensure that your baby is getting enough until she takes a full feeding.
Though that’s not a practice new moms generally follow, most experts say it’s safe. But always check with your pediatrician and OB/GYN to make sure what you’re doing is enough for your child.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
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