Skip to content

    Health & Baby

    Font Size

    Babies, Tots Low on Vitamin D

    Study Supports Recommendations to Supplement Vitamin D for All Young Kids, Especially Breastfed Babies
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    June 2, 2008 -- Many babies and toddlers need to get more vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones, a new study shows.

    This isn't the first time that the topic has come up.

    Since 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended vitamin D supplementation of 200 international units (IU) per day for all infants who don't get at least 500 milliliters of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk. That includes breastfed babies, since breast milk is low in vitamin D.

    In the new study, doctors at Children's Hospital Boston measured the blood levels of vitamin D in 380 healthy infants and toddlers aged 8 months to 2 years.

    Forty percent of those kids had suboptimal blood levels of vitamin D, including 12% who had vitamin D deficiency. And X-rays showed that a third of kids with vitamin D deficiency had bone demineralization, a sign of thinner bones, report Catherine M. Gordon, MD, MSc, and colleagues.

    Breastfed babies were particularly likely to be low in vitamin D. Then again, only 20 babies in the study were exclusively breastfed, and only six of those infants had gotten vitamin D supplements.

    "The current findings support recommendations advocating for vitamin D supplementation for all young children," Gordon's team writes.

    The vitamin D thresholds used in the study are largely based on research done on adults, and it's not clear whether those benchmarks hold for children, notes the University of Washington's James Taylor, MD, in an editorial published with the study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

    Baby's First Year Newsletter

    Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

    Today on WebMD

    mother on phone holding baby
    When you should call 911.
    parents and baby
    Unexpected ways your life will change.
    baby acne
    What’s normal – and what’s not.
    baby asleep on moms shoulder
    Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

    mother holding baby at night
    mother with sick child
    Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
    Track Your Babys Vaccines
    Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
    Mother with her baby boy
    baby in crib
    baby gear slideshow