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.