The Importance of Vitamin D in Infants

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When I was going through medical school I was told that babies need vitamin D supplementation for healthy bone development. Breast milk does not naturally contain vitamin D, but formula does. The Canadian Pediatric Association recommendations for breastfed babies is 400 International Units (IU) during October to April in Northern climates. Other than bone health I had no idea what the other benefits of vitamin D were until I had Madi. Postpartum, I wanted to learn why vitamin D was so important and why Pediatricians recommended it. The information I found was on the Canadian Pediatric Society’s position statement on vitamin D for moms and babies published in October of 2017.

Vitamin D is most well known for bone health, but more research is showing that it has multiple other functions. We need it for the cells in our body to work properly. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to osteoporosis, asthma and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes. There is still much more to discover about vitamin D, but investigating the reasoning behind the recommendation made me more diligent in remembering to give it to Madi.

Vitamin D must be ingested by swallowing in the mouth, and the best way to do that for a baby is with vitamin D drops. They can be administered directly into the mouth, or they can be dropped onto things that the baby puts in their mouth, such as a pacifier, bottle, or breast. I found that the easiest way for me personally was to wash my hands thoroughly and put the drops on my fingers and pop them into Madi’s mouth. She wasn’t interested in pacifiers or bottles when she was a newborn. Another issue I faced was forgetting to give them to her every day. I found that the best way for me to remember was to put it next to the rocking chair where I sat to breastfeed her. Putting it where you can see it and immediately use it is helpful, as well as incorporating it into a routine by doing it at the same time each day, (e.g. during the first feed of the day).

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