Babies breastfed beyond first birthday should...
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Feb 18, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Babies breastfed beyond first birthday should continue getting Vitamin D: study

Toronto researchers find risk of D deficiency rises the longer toddlers nurse


Children should continue receiving a daily dose of Vitamin D as long as they are breastfeeding, including toddlers who consume other foods and fluids, according to Toronto researchers.

While breast milk is “the near perfect food,” one thing it doesn’t contain enough of is Vitamin D, says pediatrician Dr. Jonathon Maguire of St. Michael’s Hospital. Especially in northern countries including Canada where mothers don’t get as much sunlight, which prompts the body to produce it naturally.

As a result, organizations such as the Canadian Paediatric Society have long recommended that infants receive supplement dropseed of Vitamin D, which is important for building strong bones and teeth and preventing rickets and other chronic diseases.

At a time when many mothers are nursing beyond the first year, Maguire and other researchers wanted to investigate how total duration of breastfeeding affects Vitamin D levels of toddlers even when they eat and drink other foods.

They concluded that Vitamin D deficiency “is also a problem for children older than a year of age,” Maguire said in an interview.

Their study, involving 2,500 children ages 1 through 5, was published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers from St. Mike’s and the Hospital for Sick Children found the risk of Vitamin D deficiency rose by 6 per cent for every month that babies were breastfed past age 1. By age 2, they had a 16 per cent chance of being deficient and by 3 it was 29 per cent.

That’s because while they still benefit from breast milk, nursing toddlers may not consume as much of foods such as cow’s milk and other dietary sources of Vitamin D.

“These findings support recommendations for (Vitamin D) supplementation during breastfeeding of any duration,” the paper concludes.

Guidelines from groups including the World Health Organization and the Canadian Paediatric Society call for women to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and then continue for up to two years.

Canadian physicians recommend breastfed babies receive 400 IU a day of Vitamin D drops and say those from northern communities should double that to 800 IU per day between October and April when there is little sunlight.

Toronto Star

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