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." Dawodu is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
Dawodu presented 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 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."