Study To Determine If Breastfeeding Mums And Bubs Need Vitamin D Supplements

Researchers believe newborns and their breastfeeding mothers could benefit from vitamin supplements to prevent dangerous deficiencies.

Despite offering a multitude of health benefits, breastmilk only contains low levels of Vitamin D.

Baby formula contains greater levels of the nutrient, which is important for good bone health.

"We definitely see babies with low Vitamin D levels," said Dr Merryn Netting from the South Australian Health & Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

"People with very severe deficiencies can have abnormalities in their bones.

"The worst-case scenario is if a baby gets rickets which is very low Vitamin D levels causing soft bones."

Dr Netting is leading a new study at SAHMRI to determine whether breastfeeding mums and bubs should be taking Vitamin D supplements until they start on solid foods.

The results will be used to develop recommendations for Australian guidelines around infant feeding.

"I still think breast milk is the best choice if you can breastfeed," said second time mum-to-be Michaela Gooding.

"But I'd certainly want to know if there's something that I needed to do on top of that to keep my baby healthy."

Vitamin D supplements are recommended for babies in other countries, and could prove essential even in Australia's sunny climate, as parents are encouraged to be extra vigilant about sun safety.

"Being really sun conscious with little ones, and their fair and fragile skin, we covered our son up a lot," said mother Emily Shepherd.

"He doesn't get a whole lot of sun exposure so I'm not sure what his Vitamin D levels would be like.

"If babies aren't getting the levels they needed, supplementation might be a way to achieve that for them."