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Vitamin D May Cut Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

Babies, Children Should Be Given Vitamin D Supplements, Researchers Say

Vitamin D Supplementation

The researchers conclude that their findings are compelling enough to recommend vitamin D supplementation for all babies and young children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics already recommends supplementation for breastfeeding babies and some non-breastfeeding babies. Breast milk contains little vitamin D.

Garland says children over the age of 1 can take up to 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day, if approved by their pediatrician. Younger children should take no more than 400 IU a day.

American Diabetes Association Vice President of Clinical Affairs Sue Kirkman, MD, considers the recommendation premature.

"It is a bit of a leap at this point to conclude that vitamin D supplementation can prevent type 1 diabetes," she tells WebMD. "We always have to be careful when we recommend interventions to prevent disease, and this is certainly no exception."

But Kirkman adds that possible vitamin D-diabetes connection deserves further study.

"There is growing evidence about the potential benefits of vitamin D or the harm that is caused from not getting enough of it," she says.

What's the Right Dose?

In the research analysis, published in the June issue of the journal Archives of Diseases in Childhood, investigators combined the results of five studies that examined vitamin D supplementation and type 1 diabetes risk.

They concluded that vitamin D supplementation during infancy is associated with a reduced risk for type 1 diabetes later in childhood.

Supplementation of more than 400 IU a day is not generally recommended for infants and young children.

Lead researcher Christos Zipitis, MD, tells WebMD that it appears that higher levels of vitamin D may be more protective, but he adds that this must be confirmed in future studies.

Zipitis is a pediatrician with the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom.

"I think our efforts should concentrate on getting as many babies supplemented as possible rather than worrying too much about the absolute dose," he says. "At the moment, in the U.K., despite official advice, only a tiny minority of babies are supplemented."

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