Debating the merits of giving your baby a vitamin D supplement—or trying to decide whether you should take one during pregnancy? According to research from the Netherlands, babies born with low vitamin D levels may be at higher risk for contracting respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) during their first year of life.
In the study, scientists measured the vitamin D levels in the cord blood plasma of 156 healthy newborns. Over 50 percent of babies were born with inadequate vitamin D levels and in this group, infants with low vitamin D had six times the risk of developing RSV infections during their first year of life compared to infants with the highest levels of vitamin D.
Your Baby's Health
The "sunshine vitamin" is important for healthy bone growth and the prevention of rickets, but scientists are just beginning to understand the central role vitamin D plays in strengthening the body's immune system.
Is your baby getting enough vitamin D? Since all baby formulas sold in the US are supplemented with sufficient amounts of vitamin D, as long babies take in 27 to 32 ounces of infant formula per day, this is enough to reach the daily recommended intake for the vitamin, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Since breast milk tends to be low in vitamin D, the AAP recommends giving nursing babies a vitamin D supplement (in the form of drops), starting in the first few days after birth. If you aren't sure about how to much to give your baby, or whether a supplement is truly needed—especially if you are not exclusively breastfeeding—talk to your pediatrician.
For moms-to-be, only 46 percent of women in the study reported using supplements that contained vitamin D during pregnancy. Check your prenatal vitamins! In the US, most prenatal supplements come fortified with 100 percent of the DRI for vitamin D. If your vitamin is D-deficient, ask your doctor or midwife about whether a separate supplement makes sense for you. Some women, especially those in the southern sections of the US and who spend a great deal of time outside, may produce enough D through skin production of the vitamin.