Breastfeeding Benefits Lack Vitamin D, Most Breastfed Babies Still Need Supplement Drops

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald January 12, 04:00 am
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5 myths about breastfeeding debunked
Mom's breastmilk apparently isn't always best for babies as experts say it's lacking in vitamin D.
(Photo : Fiona Goodall/Getty Images )

The benefits of breastfeeding are abundant but mothers must know that it's not the perfect food for infants. A new study reveals that most breastfed babies still need vitamin D supplement drops as feeding on breastmilk alone could make them vitamin-deficient.

Researchers asked a group of breastfeeding moms if they also give vitamin D supplement drops to their babies. Around 184 of these mothers solely breastfeed, while 44 moms who both breastfeed and give their babies formula milk participated in the study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

From this, only 55 percent of moms confirmed that they also provide vitamin D drops for their babies. Only 42 percent, however, were aware that the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D in infants is 400 IU, Reuter reports.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the recommended daily allowance was increased from 200 IU to 400 IU in 2008 and baby's milk, regardless if it's breastmilk or formula, doesn't contain enough vitamin D. This is why mothers will still need to give their babies the supplement drops to compound for what is lacking.

The problem, however, is that many mothers are not aware of this and even their pediatricians do not remind them that breastfeeding benefits lack vitamin D. "Others believed that breast milk had all the needed nutrition," Mayo Clinic's Dr. Tom Thacher said about their research. "Some mentioned the inconvenience of giving a supplement or their poor experience of giving a supplement to previous children."

Breastmilk contains only 50 IU of vitamin D per quart, according to Dr. Bruce Hollis, who did an earlier study on breastmilk and vitamin D that was published in the journal Pediatrics. He cited that if breastfeeding mothers themselves supplement 6400 IU per day of vitamin D, then giving the babies drops might not be necessary.

Vitamin D absorbs calcium, according to Mayo Clinic. A deficiency could result in softer bone development, rickets and in severe cases, heart failure in babies. Learn more about breastfeeding and vitamin D in this video below.

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