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Breastfeed Med. 2011 Jun;6(3):137-44. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2010.0025. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Maternal supplementation for prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency in exclusively breastfed infants.

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Department of Nursing, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105, USA.


Current research links newborn and infant vitamin D deficiency with various clinical outcomes, including rickets, failure to thrive, type 1 diabetes, and other immune-related diseases. Breastfed infants are often at a greater risk of developing deficiency due to their mothers' low vitamin D status. Human milk reflects the vitamin D status of the mother and often contains inadequate levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for infant nutrition. In 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended 400 IU of vitamin D supplementation of all infants. However, research has indicated low levels of compliance of vitamin D supplementation of breastfed infants and a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency in the United States. Many breastfeeding advocates believe that the AAP's recommendations undermine breastfeeding, implying that human milk is inadequate for infant nutrition. Lactating mothers are also reluctant to add any supplements to their breastmilk. The literature review will examine the effectiveness and safety of maternal vitamin D supplementation for prevention and/or treatment of vitamin D deficiency in breastfed infants and lactating mothers. This method of prevention and intervention provides pediatric providers and certified lactation consultants with an alternative approach for education, counseling, promotion of breastfeeding, and treatment to improve maternal and infant health.

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