Ask the pediatrician: Vitamin D & infants – Charlotte Observer (blog)

I have a 2 week-old daughter, and she is a breastfed baby. Her pediatrician says that she needs to be taking vitamin D supplementation. I really do not want to give her any vitamins. Could I just take a vitamin D supplement instead of her?

Many mothers would prefer to try and increase the vitamin D content of their breast milk by taking vitamin D supplements rather than giving their infants vitamin D. Over the years, there have been several well-designed studies looking at infant vitamin D levels and comparing maternal supplementation versus infant supplementation.

A recent study published in the September 2015 edition of Pediatrics compared infants who received 400 IU of vitamin D to infants whose mothers took supplemental vitamin D. The mothers who took supplements were divided into two groups: one group took 2400 IU of vitamin D daily and the other received 6400 IU of vitamin D per day.

The 2400 IU/day group ended early because of vitamin D deficiency that developed with infants in this group. The infants in the other two groups had similar levels of vitamin D.

In other words, if a mother prefers to take vitamin D, in lieu of supplementing her breastfed infant, the mother needs to take 6400 IU of vitamin D daily. (To put this into perspective, a prenatal vitamin contains 400 IU of vitamin D) Anything less would place an infant at risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics still recommends that all breastfed infants receive an additional 400 IU of vitamin D supplementation per day. These recommendations have not changed based on this study.