Pediatrics group doubles vitamin D recommendation

by Jeff Gelski
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BOSTON — The American Academy of Pediatrics is doubling the recommended daily amount of vitamin D for infants, children and adolescents to 400 International Units (I.U.) a day from 200 I.U.

A review of clinical data showed giving 400 I.U. of vitamin D daily to the pediatric population will prevent rickets and treat it. The greatest risk for rickets is in breastfed infants who are not supplemented with 400 I.U. of vitamin D a day, according to the Academy. Adequate vitamin D throughout childhood also may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have life-long-health benefits," said Dr. Frank Greer, M.D., chair of the Academy’s Committee on Nutrition. "Supplementation is important because most children will not get enough vitamin D through diet alone."

The new recommendation is found in the report "Prevention of Rickets and Vitamin D Deficiency in Infants, Children, and Adolescents." Dr. Carol Wagner, M.D., served as co-author of the report.

"Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants," Dr. Wagner said. "However, because of vitamin D deficiencies in the maternal diet, which affect the vitamin D in a mother’s milk, it is important that breastfed infants receive supplements of vitamin D.

"Until it is determined what the vitamin D requirements of the lactating mother-infant dyad are, we must ensure that the breastfeeding infant receives an adequate supply of vitamin D through a supplement of 400 IU per day."

New recommendations in the report include:

● Breastfed and partially breastfed infants should be supplemented with 400 I.U. a day of vitamin D beginning in the first few days of life.

● All non-breastfed infants, as well as older children, who are consuming less than one quart per day of vitamin D-fortified formula or milk, should receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 I.U. a day.

● Adolescents who do not obtain 400 I.U. of vitamin D per day through foods should receive a supplement containing that amount.

● Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency, such as those taking certain medications, may need higher doses of vitamin D.

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