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Indian J Med Res. 2008 Mar;127(3):250-5.

Vitamin D deficiency in exclusively breast-fed infants.

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Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital, Chennai, India.


Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended up to 6 months of age with all its beneficial effects on child survival. Several studies have concluded that adequate intake of vitamin D cannot be met with human milk as the sole source of vitamin D. As breast-feeding rates increase, the incidence of vitamin D deficiency rickets is also expected to rise. One of the potential sources of vitamin D synthesis is in the skin from the ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Risk factors for developing vitamin D deficiency and rickets include low maternal levels of vitamin D, indoor confinement during the day, living at higher altitudes, living in urban areas with tall buildings, air pollution, darker skin pigmentation, use of sunscreen and covering much or all of the body when outside. In a study of 50 cases of hypocalcaemia reported from an urban tertiary care children's hospital in Chennai, 13 exclusively breast-fed infants presented with hypocalcaemia due to vitamin D deficiency and most of them with seizures. None of them had received vitamin D supplementation and all their mothers had biochemical evidence for vitamin D deficiency. This review discusses the rising incidence of vitamin D deficiency in infancy and the need to consider and implement methods to prevent the same by supplementation and increased exposure to sunlight without the hazards of ultraviolet rays on the skin. Further research to define the magnitude of vitamin D deficiency in exclusively breast-fed infants as a public health and paediatric problem and to recommend programmes to prevent the same are of utmost importance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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