Study Finds Lactating Mothers and Breastfed Babies Need Vitamin D Supplements

Saturday, May 01, 2010

 As many as two of three breastfeeding mothers in Cincinnati may have insufficient blood levels of Vitamin D, a concern that also affects three out of four one-month-old infants whose mothers breastfeed, according to a new Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study.

"Mothers who are Vitamin D deficient produce little or no Vitamin D in their milk and are unable to give a baby all of the Vitamin D it needs," says Adekunle Dawodu, MD, a physician in the Center for Global Child Health at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s lead author. “Mothers and babies who breastfeed need Vitamin D supplements to ensure optimum health."

Dr. Dawodu will present his study at 1:15 p.m. ET, Saturday May 1, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, Canada.

The study focused on 120 mother-infant pairs who were enrolled in a global human milk research collaborative. The prevalence of Vitamin D insufficiency in mothers, which can lead to deficiency, was 66.4 percent at four weeks postpartum, and the prevalence of deficiency was 16.8 percent at four weeks. The prevalence of insufficiency in infants was 76 percent at four weeks and the prevalence of deficiency was 18 percent.

Major results of Vitamin D deficiency include brittle bones, rickets and increased risk of respiratory infections. Vitamin D deficiency is particularly high in the African American population.

"In addition to taking Vitamin D supplements, people can also make sure they are getting modest sunlight exposure," explains Dr. Dawodu. "We hope to do larger studies that will identify the amount of Vitamin D that breast feeding moms will need in order to make sure that they and their babies are getting enough of the vitamin."

About Cincinnati Children's

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is one of 10 children’s hospitals named to the Honor Roll in U.S. News and World Report’s 2009-10 America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. It is ranked #1 for digestive disorders and highly ranked for its expertise in respiratory diseases, cancer, neonatal care, heart care, neurosurgery, diabetes, orthopedics, kidney disorders and urology. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Internationally recognized for quality and innovation by The Joint Commission, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it has collaborations with hospitals and health systems around the world. Additional information can be found at

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