Study of vitamin D levels in exclusively breastfed term infants in a tertiary care centre


  • Soumya M. Department of Pediatrics, SDM College of Medicals Sciences and Hospital, Dharwad, Karnataka, India



Exclusive breastfeeding, Lactating Mother, Vitamin D, Term Infant


Background: Exclusive breast-feeding is recommended up to 6 months of age with all its beneficial effects on child survival. Several studies have concluded that adequate intake of vitamin D cannot be met with human milk as the sole source of vitamin D. So this study was undertaken to study the serum vitamin D levels in exclusively breastfed babies and their mothers in a tertiary care hospital.

Methods: It was a prospective observational study. A minimum of 100 healthy infants born at term (38-42 weeks) and weighed >2.5kgs at birth and who were exclusively breast fed from age group 3-6 months attending the hospitals attached to J J M M C were selected for study. Approval from the ethical committee of the institution was obtained.

Results: In this study there were totally 43% of males and 57% of females. Among them 14 (14%) of the infants were vitamin D deficient and 19 (19%) infants were vitamin D insufficient. And in 100 mothers studied 25 (25%) mothers were vitamin D deficient and 24 (24%) mothers were insufficient of vitamin D. The mean vitamin D level in infants was 25.72 ng/ml (±11.31ng/ml) and in mothers’ it was 22.09ng/ml (±9.17ng/ml).

Conclusions: Breastfeeding might be one the contributing factors if the infant is not adequately exposed to sunlight for endogenous synthesis of vitamin D and if the mother is deplete in vitamin D levels transferring lower amount of vitamin D to infant through breast milk.



Lauer JA, Betran AP, Barros AJ, de Onis M. Deaths and years of life lost due to suboptimal breastfeeding among children in the developing world: A global ecological risk assessment. Public Health Nutr. 2006;9:673-85.

Balasubramanian S, Ganesh R. Vitamin D deficiency in exclusively breast-fed infants. Indian J Med Res. 2008;127:250-5.

Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:266-81

Hollis BW, Wagner CL. Assessment of dietary vitamin D requirements during pregnancy and lactation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;79:717-26.

Prentice A. Vitamin D deficiency: a global perspective. Nutr Rev. 2008;66:S153-64.

Sachan A, Gupta R, Das V, Agarwal A, Awasthi PK, Bhatia V. High prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and their newborns in northern India. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81:1060-4.

Goswami R, Gupta N, Goswami D, Marwaha RK, Tandon N, Kochupillai N. Prevalence and significance of low 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in healthy subjects in Delhi. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72:472-5.

Bhalala U, Desai M, Parekh P, Mokal R, Chheda B. Subclinical hypovitaminosis D among exclusively breastfed young infants. Indian Pediatr. 2007;44:897-901.

Seth A, Marwaha RK, Singla B, Aneja S, Mehrotra P, Sastry A, et al. Vitamin D nutritional status of exclusively breast fed infants and their mothers. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2009;22:241-6.

World Health Organisation. WHO Global Data Bank on Breastfeeding. Updated 2003

WHO. Child Growth Standards, Length/ height for age, weight for age, weight for length, weight for height and body mass index for age. Methods and Development. 2006. Available at

Misra M, Pacaud D, Petryk A, Collett-Solberg PF, Kappy M. Vitamin D deficiency in children and its management: review of current knowledge and recommendations. Indian Pediatr. 2008;122:398-417.

Jagzape T, Khan S. Vitamin D levels in exclusively breastfed infants less than six months of age: Do they need supplementation? Sri Lanka J Child Health. 2014;43(2):92-6.

Jain V, Gupta N, Kalavani M , Jain A, Sinha A, Agarwal R. Vitamin D deficiency in healthy breastfed term infants at 3 months and their mothers in India: Seasonal variation and Determinants. Indian J Med Res. 2011;133(3):267-73.

Doug B, John M. Vitamin D deficiency is common among otherwise healthy Alaskan children. Bulletin. 2003;318(2):39-40.






Original Research Articles