Canadian mothers and babies don't get enough vitamin D

    Paediatricians recommend increased doses for pregnant and breastfeeding

    OTTAWA, Sept. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian mothers and babies, especially
those in northern communities, aren't getting enough vitamin D, according to a
new statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society.
    Vitamin D deficiency - prevalent among pregnant women, exclusively
breastfed infants, and northern Aboriginal populations - can pose serious
dangers to the development of a fetus and infant, yet is easily preventable
through supplements. Vitamin D can also help protect babies against certain
illnesses in childhood and later in life.
    "Ensuring that pregnant women and babies have enough vitamin D can have
lifelong implications," said Dr. John Godel, principal author of the
statement. "The currently recommends levels of supplementation for pregnant
and breastfeeding women may not be enough to ensure that babies get what they
    The CPS recommends that all babies who are exclusively breastfed receive
a supplement of 400 IU/day, and that babies in the North (above 55 degrees
latitude) get twice that amount during winter months (from October to April).
    Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk to their doctor about taking
a supplement of 2000 IU/day.
    The CPS statement, Vitamin D supplementation: recommendations for
Canadian mothers and infants, published in this month's issue of Paediatrics &
Child Health, also recommends that babies who are at risk of vitamin D
deficiency-those with dark skin, who have limited exposure to the sun, or
whose mothers are vitamin D deficient-also get extra vitamin D during the
winter, regardless of where they live.
    Vitamin D, which is involved in the regulation of cell growth, immunity
and cell metabolism, is produced mainly in the skin through sun exposure, but
is also ingested through food and supplements. Recent data from the Canadian
Paediatric Surveillance Program suggests that rickets - a vitamin D-deficiency
associated illness - is still prevalent in Canada, especially among First
Nations and Inuit populations, despite simple and cost-effective prevention
    "Limited sun exposure at northern latitudes contributes to low levels of
vitamin D, especially among northern Aboriginal communities," said Dr. Kent
Saylor, chair of the CPS First Nations, Inuit and Métis Health Committee.
"Vitamin D supplementation is the simplest way to protect mothers and their
infants from preventable illness."

    The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that
promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS
represents more than 2,500 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other
child health professionals across Canada. Paediatrics & Child Health is the
peer-reviewed journal of the CPS.

For further information:

For further information: Media inquiries: Olivia Craft, Canadian
Paediatric Society, (613) 526-9397, ext. 234; Jennifer Lefebvre, Canadian
Paediatric Society, (613) 526-9397, ext. 247, (613) 850-4868 (cell); To access
the full statement, visit:

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