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Do Breastfed Babies Lack Necessary Vitamin D Supplements?

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I saw this headline on Yahoo News the other day and did a double take. I breastfed all my children and made the decision to do so mainly because I believed it was the best thing for them. When a mother is eating nutritious foods and refraining from unhealthy behaviors (smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs), then breastfeeding is considered the best source of nutrition for a newborn. So what’s the deal with the vitamin D?

According to the article on Yahoo News, “Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food, and is important for bone development. Children who are severely deficient in vitamin D can develop rickets, a disorder in which the bones weaken which can lead to fractures and skeletal deformities.”

The article also stated, “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children, including infants, get 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, an amount that is not possible to get from breast milk alone, experts say. And while people can also get vitamin D from sunlight, the AAP advises that infants younger than six months avoid exposure to direct sunlight due to skin cancer risk...The AAP recommends vitamin D supplements, in the form of drops, be given to breastfed babies shortly after birth.”

The authors went on to say that “Only about 5 percent to 13 percent of breastfed babies received vitamin D supplements between 2005 and 2007, according to a study published in April [2010] in the journal Pediatrics. These low numbers might stem from the misperception that breast milk contains everything the baby needs...Recent surveys indicate less than half of pediatricians are recommending vitamin D supplements to breastfed babies, another possible reason for the low numbers. Experts hope to get the message out, to both mothers and pediatricians, in regards to the importance of vitamin D for children.”

I had never heard of this when my sons were newborns and all of their well check ups illustrated strong growth and progress. I am not sure that I would have given them the supplements unless it was recommended for a certain reason.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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