Study Recommends Vitamin D Supplements for Babies

According to a recent study, babies aren't getting enough vitamin D. The solution? Vitamin D supplements for newborn babies, according to the research.

Study Recommends Vitamin D Supplements for Babies Flashon Studio/Shutterstock

You might think your baby is getting enough vitamin D if you're breastfeeding, but according to a recent study, that's not the case. You should also be giving your child vitamin D supplements.

Women who are breastfeeding have been encouraged to take the supplements themselves, as breast milk actually doesn't contain high enough levels of the nutrient. Because of this—and because of the fact that vitamin D is essential to helping the body adsorb calcium and without it, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies take vitamin D supplements, regardless of whether they are breastfed or formula fed. But a recent study found something really surprising: babies who are both eating solid food and being breastfed are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency.

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health and was based on the observation of 2,508 children in Toronto. According to its findings, children who were breastfed up to 36 months showed a 29 percent risk of developing vitamin D deficiencies while those who were breastfed for 24 months had a 16 percent risk.

The theory behind this? That babies who are breastfed aren't getting enough vitamin D from other sources. It's possible that women who breastfeed their children believe they're giving them enough of the vitamin without any supplements. This could be dangerous for baby: Vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, fatigue or impaired immune function.

The CDC recommends a supplement of 400 I.U. per day for all breastfed infants. Though its rare for a breastfed infant to develop rickets—and despite the fact that sunlight provides additional vitamin D—it's important to make sure your baby is getting enough of the vitamin. You can simply add a drop of an over-the-counter supplement to your nipple before breastfeeding or to Baby's pacifier. You can also add a drop to your baby's food or milk.