&# 128137; Children who are breastfed after one year need additional vitamin D – Online Hospital 2020
For toddlers, nothing is as important as breast milk.
This is why healthcare officials place so much emphasis on encouraging mothers to breastfeed their children.
Despite the good reputation of breast milk as a superfood for infants, it remains insufficient in one area.
"Breast milk is an incredible nutrient for children and has many positive aspects, but the thing she doesn’t have much of is vitamin D.", Dr. Jonathon Maguire, a pediatrician and researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said Healthline.
Maguire is the author of a new study published today in the American Journal of Public Health. It is recommended that children who are still breastfeeding after one year must continue to take vitamin D supplements to avoid health problems such as rickets.
More information: Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D »
Current guidelines on vitamin D.
Vitamin D promotes the formation of strong bones and teeth by helping the body absorb and use calcium and phosphorus.
Severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to rickets, weakening and softening of the bones.
Vitamin D is found in foods such as fatty fish – salmon and mackerel – and egg yolk. It is also added to many foods like milk, formula and soy milk.
The body can produce its own vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. People living closer to the Poles may not get enough sun exposure to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D..
Diet and low sun exposure are reasons for the lack of vitamin D in breast milk.
The maternal vitamin D levels are simply not that high and the vitamin D is not passed on from the breast milk to the children. Dr. Jonathon Maguire, St. Michael’s Hospital
"The maternal vitamin D levels are just not that high", Maguire said, "and the vitamin D is not passed on to the children from breast milk. "
Professional associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Pediatric Society therefore recommend that breast-fed children in their first year of life be supplemented with 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day.
Now, with the success of public health campaigns to promote breastfeeding, more children are breastfeeding after their first birthday.
Researchers are therefore taking a closer look at what happens to these children’s vitamin D levels.
"The problem is that after a year, it was unclear what happens to children’s vitamin D levels", Maguire said. "They eat other foods, so they may get vitamin D from other foods, but they are also breastfeeding."
Read more: Effects of vitamin D deficiency »
Vitamin D levels can drop
In the new study, researchers have blood vitamin D levels in more than 2500 children between the ages of 1 and 5 years.
The children took part in TARGet Kids! , a collaboration between St. Michael’s Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
"For every additional month in which breastfeeding is continued for a year, the vitamin D level drops and continues to fall", Maguire said. "But for children who continue to receive vitamin D supplementation, the vitamin D level in the blood does not drop. "
At the age of two, children who were still breastfeeding had a 16 percent higher risk of developing vitamin D. At the age of 3, that rose to 29 percent.
We see many mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies after one year. I think that’s really important research. Tamara Melton, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Further studies are needed to confirm these results and to determine whether they apply to other groups of children, particularly those who live in sunnier areas.
This research is needed before organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics change their current guidelines.
Nevertheless, some people welcome this study.
"We see many mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies after one year. I think that’s really important research ", Tamara Melton, registered nutritionist and director of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Healthline.
Read more: Extra facts about vitamin D »
Simple vitamin D supplements
Other studies have examined whether the increase in the amount of vitamin D in breast milk can be increased in breastfeeding mothers. This may not be the easiest approach.
"We have known for a long time that giving a very cheap vitamin D supplement to breastfeeding children just works", Maguire said.
Most supermarkets and pharmacies carry liquid vitamin D drops suitable for children.
"I used them when I was breastfeeding my daughters and I only gave them a small drop on the tongue", said Melton. "A few drops and they were good to go. "
The hardest part for many mothers is to remember to give the drops to their child every day.
"I usually advise the first feeding in the morning", said Melton. "Put it next to your coffee or something, so you see it and take it. "
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