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New recommendations published in a new study found in the American Journal of Public Health advise the supplementation of vitamin D in children’s diets.

The study from researchers at St.Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, found that breastfeeding kids, even if they are eating solid foods, are at an increased risk of developing soft and weak bones due to a lack of vitamin D.

Whilst the World Health Organisation recommends mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life, it has been found that breastmilk alone does not provide infants with enough vitamin D to keep them healthy.  In fact, breast milk has been found to typically provide just 25 IU (international units) of vitamin D per litre.

Based on this information, the American Academy of Paediatrics currently recommends all breastfed infants receive a minimum of supplemented 400 IU of vitamin D each day.

Vitamin D is crucial to strengthening bones and helping absorb minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. Without it, children risk developing rickets, a condition characterised by muscle weakness, delayed growth and skeletal deformities.

The St.Michael’s Hospital study was focused on the increased risk of bone weakness when children continued to breastfeed after 1 years of age without receiving vitamin D supplements.

Blood samples from 2,500 children aged 1 to 5 years old were examined with the vitamin D levels measured. The study data showed that for every month a child was breastfed after their first birthday, vitamin D deficiency rose by 6 per cent.  By the time the child turned 2 years old, they had a 16-percent chance of being deficient. And by age 3, that risk increased to 29 percent.

The researchers found that no normal food had an effect on the vitamin D levels with the children in the study.  

Experts currently advise parents to give their babies 400 IU of vitamin D for as long as they’re breastfeeding. Once the baby is weaned, they should receive at least 32 ounces of vitamin D-fortified formula a day.

Image source: Shutterstock

  • Interesting article but I would check with Paediatrician or child maternal health nurse

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  • I have my Bub vitamin d drops for her first year. I was surprised when my own levels were found to be low too.

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  • its only after one year of age the findings have been proven. But by this age they are eating a range of foods anyway. Have they looked at the range of foods they are eating?

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  • Hmm, this seems a bit contradictory to the WHO guidelines for breastfeeding, which say that milk has all the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs… This definitely requires further research on my part. Thank you very much for sharing. :)

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  • What crap we have been breastfeeding babies for thousands of years without a problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if a formula company funded this study

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  • yes i think we got through all right as well. never really heard of this issue before

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  • Well thats interesting but way too late for me and my kids survived…lol
    SO…I guess we are the only animal whos milk is NOT perfect for our offspring….how odd.

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  • Best to seek advice form your GP as they will know your baby and will know what your baby needs. It can be so terribly confusing.

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  • I’m not clear – are supplements needed in the first six months?

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  • There will always be findings like this. Probably best to seek medical advice, just to be on the safe side.

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  • There is such a big vitamin-D deficiency in the all world. Also in Australia. I think that what they advise to do is right!

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  • It sounds as though they add Vitamin D into the baby formula
    Most young babies and those up to the age of about 2 y.o. would not spend much time in the sun without protection. Their skin burns too quickly to risk it, ecspecially where the weather is hot all the time. We protect their skin from the risk of skin cancer too. While they may receive plenty of calcium in their diet, it is not absorbed if there is a Vitamin D deficiency.

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  • Wouldn’t sunshine provide the adequate amount of Vitamin D?!

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  • Lke ht

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  • Very interesting as I have never heard of this deficient in breast milk before.

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