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New Research Links Vitamin D Deficiency and SIDS in Infants

Katlyn Joy | 9, March 2012


In January 2012, researchers from the Royal London Hospital and Sheffield Children's Hospital, noted that one in four youngsters have Vitamin D deficiency and believe there could be a link between this nutritional lack and the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets, a disorder that results in weakened and brittle bones. Rickets is caused by too little Vitamin D, calcium or phosphate. Children with this disorder may easily receive bone fractures. This may result in suspicion of child abuse, when children have multiple fractures or a repeated history of bone breaks.

Vitamin D deficiency is more commonly seen in African American children because their increased pigmentation means less absorption of sunlight and the associated Vitamin D. Rates of both SIDS and Vitamin D deficiency are higher in African American children. Both conditions are also known to peak during low sunlight winter months as well.

Another consideration is breastfeeding. Breastfed infants require Vitamin D supplements beginning by two months of age. The recommended amount of Vitamin D supplement is 400 IUs daily. These are usually administered as drops to the infant.

Doctors though rickets was wiped out in modern times, but recent years have seen resurgence in the number of this once common childhood malady.

Reasons for the upswing in cases are attributed to a fear of over-exposure to sun and the risk of skin cancer. While doctors concerned about rickets and Vitamin D deficiency and dermatologists have debates over this issue, many believe a certain amount of sun exposure may be healthy and necessary. Some researchers recommend a small amount such as five or ten minutes a day for light skinned individuals while darker skinned people will require more sun-time to reap the same benefits.

Other factors include breastfeeding without Vitamin D supplementation and the increased indoor past times of children such as video games and computer time.

Vitamin D deficiency may lead to SIDS, stunted growth, broken or weakened bones and other health problems such as cardiac disorders, seizures or even death in severe cases.

Fighting Vitamin D Deficiency

  • To avoid Vitamin D deficiency, use recommended dose of Vitamin D drops with breastfed infants.
  • Consult your doctor about safe and limited sun exposure for your child.
  • Give your child a diet rich in Vitamin D: Include foods such as salmon and tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, sardines, cheeses such as Swiss cheese, yogurt, vitamin D fortified cereals, and dairy products.

Related Articles

How to Detect Hearing Loss in Infants

Does Baby Need Vitamin D?

Study: Your Preemie May Not Be Getting Enough Vitamin D


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