|Monday, March 01, 2004|
|Rickets in Babies and Vitamin D|
|Posted March 1, 2004
Taking a daily vitamin may be good advice for some babies.
Doctors have been recommending that breast-fed infants take
vitamin D daily, usually in the form of a multivitamin drop.
They are following the lead of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, which raised concerns about vitamin D deficiency and
rickets in an April 2003 clinical report.
"Rickets is a rare disease, but there have been more cases," said
Dr. Pat Specht, a pediatrician with Children's Physicians and
Creighton University. "It's not an epidemic of rickets - there are
just more cases. Preventable cases."
Rickets is a childhood disorder involving softening and weakening
of the bones. A vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets because the
vitamin helps the body absorb calcium.
Specht said more cases of rickets have been seen in the United
States for a couple reasons.
More moms are breast-feeding, he said. Breast milk contains only
small amounts of vitamin D.
In addition, fear of sunburn and, later in life, skin cancer is
prompting moms to keep their kids out of the sun, a second source
of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is known as the "sunshine vitamin" because the body
produces it after being exposed to sunlight.
Specht said parents can stop giving their infant vitamin drops
once the baby is drinking at least 17 ounces of formula or whole
Experts say the reduced amount of vitamin D is not a strike
against breast-feeding. The American Academy of Pediatrics and many
pediatricians encourage it.
A simple vitamin drop takes care of the problem, they say. Older
kids can avoid rickets by drinking vitamin D fortified milk.
"Prevention is always easier than treatment," Specht said. "It's
always easier to prevent a condition than try to correct a
Date Feb 25, 2004|