Babies need more vitamin D after first year
A new Canadian study recommends giving newborns vitamin D supplements after a year as a preventive health measure.
Researchers from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto discovered that for every month a child breastfeeds after their first birthday, the possibility of vitamin D deficiency increased by six percent. When they turned two-years-old, the risk rose to 16 percent and 29 percent by age three, according to the study.
“Studies have shown that since pregnant women are deficient in vitamin D that means often their babies are deficient,” says Dr. Joseph Thomas, an obstetrics and gynecologist physician at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “The situation becomes even worse if the mother gives birth early because that means the baby is often extremely low in vitamin D from the start.”
Dr. Thomas says a baby needs about 1,000 units of vitamin D daily, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 400 units. Without adequate vitamin D, a baby risks developing ailments such as rickets, a skeletal deformity.
Our bodies produce vitamin D on their own when exposed to sunlight, which is why adults are less likely to be deficient.
Breastfeeding is natural and beneficial for infants because breast milk contains necessary nutrients and antibodies. However, it lacks vitamin D.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics also suggests breastfeeding mothers give their infants a vitamin D supplement to ensure proper bone development.
“Especially if you are living north of Atlanta, you have people who get very low exposure to sun and do not have enough vitamin D,” says Dr. Thomas. “People don’t understand how vital that vitamin is to life. It helps kill viruses and is known for killing bacteria that starts inflammation associated with giving birth early.”
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