Stop vitamin D deficiency now! Raise the DRI to support breastfeeding mother and baby.

Well-meaning parents today could be faced with the tragedy of learning that their babies are recovering from multiple internal fractures – or worse having their child taken away for suspicion of child abuse.

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How could this occur?

These well-meaning parents are just following the advice of their doctors:

  1. They are exclusively breast feeding their infants
  2. They are keeping themselves and their children out of the sun
  3. The mothers are supplementing with a daily prenatal vitamin (which contains a paltry 400 IU vitamin D).

So…what is happening?

  1. The babies are getting essentially zero vitamin D! They get almost nothing from the breast milk of a mom taking 400 IU vitamin D /day.
  2. Neither mother or baby is making vitamin D from the sun
  3. Studies have shown that the mothers have borderline sufficient levels of vitamin D (Black an average of 28 ng/ml, Hispanic an average of 30 ng/ml, White an average of 40 ng/ml). The babies, however are deficient. Research shows Black babies have an average of 10 ng/ml, Hispanic babies an average of 11 ng/ml, and White babies an average of 17 ng/ml (Ref. 1).

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics is aware of this problem. So much so that in 2008 they issued a dietary reference intake (DRI – the old RDA) of 400 IU vitamin D daily for infants (beginning the first few days of life). Unfortunately, population based research has found that only 2-19% of families are following this recommendation (the supplements are not being given to the children). This puts over 80% of our infant population at risk for vitamin D deficiency (Ref. 1).

What happens to babies that are vitamin D deficient?

In infants, vitamin D deficiency can result in seizures, growth failure, lethargy, irritability, and a predisposition to respiratory infections.  Between 3 and 18 months of age the vitamin D deficient baby may develop signs of rickets, the skeletal disorder resulting in brittle bones, prevalent in the early 1900s which led to fortifying milk with vitamin D.

Rickets is on the rise. There are no national rates for rickets in the US because it is not a reportable public health disease, but in the UK, the Daily Mail cites 833 hospital admissions for rickets in 2012, a four-fold increase from 10 years earlier.

In the US cases of severe rickets are showing up as multiple fractures, causing child protective services to take the child from its family for fear of abuse.

Vitamin D deficiency in infancy can lead to increased risk of disease in adulthood including MS, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

What can you do?

If you are pregnant or breast feeding – start supplementing now with 6400 IU vitamin D daily.

Sign our petition! Based on research, we are asking that the US Breastfeeding Committee change the DRI for pregnant and lactating mothers to 6400 IU vitamin D per day.

Why 6400 IU?

Starting in early 2000, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina surmised that there was a safe amount of vitamin D which would give both mother and baby adequate nutritional vitamin D status. They compared 400 IU given to the mother and baby (the current DRI for lactating mothers and infants) to 6400 IU given to the mother only. (400 IU was from a standard prenatal vitamin, 6000 IU was added.)

Their first double-blind, randomized controlled study (Ref. 2, 2006) found 6400 IU vitamin D / day was safe, with no adverse reactions and it allowed mother and baby adequate nutritional vitamin D status. But that first study had 19 women, 15 of which were white. They replicated the study with more women, multiple sites and a diverse population (Ref. 1, 2015). This second study started with 258 women, had two sites and differing skin types – about 25% African American, 25% Hispanic, and 50% White.

The second study reported similar results. With 6400 IU vitamin D daily, mothers reached a mean vitamin D blood level of 60 ng/ml and their babies reached a mean of 44 ng/ml (without direct supplementation!).  In the control group, mothers took only 400 IU vitamin D per day and supplemented their children with 400 IU vitamin D drops / day. The mothers achieved a mean of 32 ng/ml (not nutritionally adequate) but babies reached nutritionally adequate levels through supplementation – a mean of 44 ng/ml.

The conclusion? Mothers taking 6400 IU vitamin D daily not only improved their own health, but gave the equivalent of 400 IU vitamin D / day (the DRI) to their babies through their breast milk.

Why we can’t wait for our doctors to lead the way

This research is new (last study was published October 2015). It typically takes 17 years for research to become common practice. Let’s do some math…

  • 4M babies born in the US each year, about 80% are not getting adequate vitamin D (those being fully or partially breastfed).
  • With no change…54.4M babies will start life deficient. This will impact their growth, development, immune function, and future disease.

6400 IU vitamin D daily has been shown to be safe, cheap, and effective. Let us not delay! Sign this petition to change the US DRI of vitamin D for pregnant and lactating mothers. Stop the cycle of deficiency today.

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References: (Papers)

  1. Maternal Versus Infant Vitamin D Supplementation During Lactation: A Randomized Controlled Trial
    Bruce W. Hollis et al.
    October 2015
  2. High-Dose Vitamin D3 Supplementation in a Cohort of Breastfeeding Mothers and Their Infants: A 6-Month Follow-Up Pilot Study
    Carol L. Wagner et al.
    Breastfeeding Medicine
    July 2006