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Open Access Research article

Very high vitamin D supplementation rates among infants aged 2 months in Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia, Canada

Barbara Crocker1, Tim J Green2*, Susan I Barr2, Bridgid Beckingham1, Radhika Bhagat1, Beata Dabrowska1, Rachel Douthwaite1, Carmen Evanson1, Russell Friesen2, Kathy Hydamaka3, Wangyang Li2, Kelly Simmons1 and Lillian Tse1

Author Affiliations

1 Infant, Child and Youth Program, Vancouver Coastal Health, 1669 East Broadway, Vancouver V5N 1V9, Canada

2 Food, Nutrition and Health, University of British Columbia, 2205 East Mall, Vancouver V6T 1Z4, Canada

3 Healthy Babies and Families Program, Vancouver Coastal Health, 8100 Granville Avenue, Richmond V6Y 3T6, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:905  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-905

Published: 7 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Vitamin D deficiency during infancy may lead to rickets and possibly other poor health outcomes. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. Breast milk is the best food for infants but does not contain adequate vitamin D. Health Canada recommends all breastfed infants receive a daily vitamin D supplement of 400 IU; however, there appears to be limited current Canadian data as to whether parents or caregivers are following this advice. The aim of this study was to determine the rates of vitamin D supplementation among 2-month old infants in Vancouver and Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

Methods

Mothers of all healthy infants born between April and May 2010 were approached to participate. Telephone surveys were conducted with 577 mothers (response rate 56%) when their infants turned 2 months.

Results

Over half of the infants received only breast milk in the week prior to the survey. One third received a mixture of breast milk and infant formula and 10% received only formula. About 80% of the infants were supplemented with vitamin D at 2 months. Infants who received only breast milk were most likely to be supplemented with vitamin D (91%). Over 60% of the infants had a total vitamin D intake of 300- < 500 IU/d from supplements and formula and only 5% did not receive any vitamin D. Most parents were advised to give vitamin D supplement by health professionals, such as public health nurses, midwives, and doctors.

Conclusions

About 90% of the infants received breast milk at 2 months of age. The vitamin D supplementation rate was 80%. Future studies are needed to monitor breastfeeding duration and vitamin D supplementation rates as infants get older.