Most Babies Need More Vitamin D
< Mar. 24, 2010 > -- American infant diets are lacking vitamin D, whether they're breast feeding or drinking formula, a new federal government report shows.
Vitamin D is essential for bone development. Lack of the vitamin has been linked to many diseases, including cancer, type 1 diabetes, and respiratory problems.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics raised the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D for infants from 200 International Units (IU) a day to 400 IU. However, it appears too few infants are getting these new levels, according to the report published in the March 22 online edition of Pediatrics.
Infants Need Supplements, Even Those Who Receive Formula
For the study, Perrine's team collected data on babies ages one to 10-and-a-half months from 2005 to 2007. Researchers then estimated how many infants were getting the recommended levels of vitamin D.
Researchers found that only 5 to 13 percent of breast-fed infants were getting enough vitamin D, per the new guidelines.
"Vitamin D receptors are present in almost every type of cell in the body," explains lead researcher Cria G. Perrine, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Most infants, starting at birth, will need a vitamin D supplement."
"In the past, it was assumed that children receiving formula didn't need a vitamin D supplement, because they were getting it from the formula," Perrine says.
However, the study found that only 9 percent of infants who were breast-fed but also got formula received 400 IUs of vitamin D a day. Of babies fed exclusively with formula, only 20 to 37 percent got the recommended amount of vitamin D.
In addition, researchers found only one 1 to 13 percent of infants received a vitamin D supplement.
Talk With Your Pediatrician
Talk with your doctor about whether your baby needs a vitamin D supplement. Drops and liquid multivitamins with vitamin D are available for infants. Each dose should contain 400 IUs to be sure your baby is getting enough, says Perrine.
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Breast-Feeding Is Good for Your Baby
Breast-feeding offers lots of benefits to your baby. Generally, breast milk has the right nutritional balance help infants grow into strong and healthy toddlers. Some breast milk nutrients also may help protect your infant against certain illnesses and infections. Plus, breast milk is easier for babies to digest than formula.
Healthy women should try to give babies breast milk for at least the first six months of life, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. If you have a health condition or are taking any medicines, talk to your doctor about breast feeding before your baby's birth.
Babies can continue nursing even after they've started eating cereal or other baby food. If you can, keep breast-feeding for 12 months or longer.
Here are some tips for breast-feeding success:
Always consult your physician for more information.
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