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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 milk. 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 condition later."

Date Feb 25, 2004
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