A study published in the January/February edition in the Journal of Annals of Family Medicine has suggested that breastfed infants may not be getting enough vitamin D.
Breast milk contains a low level of the vitamin and inadequate levels can lead to the bone disease rickets. Increased vitamin D can come from sunlight, however it is recommended that infants under six month avoid exposure due to a risk of obtaining skin cancer. And, of the 184 women surveyed in the study (140 who exclusively breastfed and 44 who fed a combination of breast milk and formula), most were not giving vitamin D supplements to their infants.
Many mothers are unaware of the recommendation and fail to consistently provide supplementation, while others assumed their multivitamin containing vitamin D provided an adequate amount. Studies have shown, however, that a mother would need to take a daily supplement of between 4,000 and 6,400 IU to provide sufficient breast milk enrichment.
The Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants who are breastfed or combination-fed, receive 400 IU of vitamin D each day, as should infants receiving less than 33.8 ounces of formula per day. Infant supplements come in a liquid form that can be added to a bottle or given with a dropper. Mothers choosing not to give the supplement directly, can take a high dose vitamin D supplement to meet their baby’s needs.