The topic of vitamin and mineral supplements for breastfeeding babies seems to come up very frequently in our meeting discussions! Here are a few links to follow up on discussions we have had in recent months:
Fluoride As of 2005, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that fluoride supplements should not be given to breastfed infants under six months of age. After that point, fluoride supplements may be considered if other sources of fluoride, such as fluoridated water, are not available.
Iron Healthy full-term babies are born with iron stores that will carry them through the first six to twelve months of life. Breastmilk also does contain iron in a form that is very easily absorbed compared to the iron complexes found in supplements. After six months of age, iron-rich complementary foods can gradually be introduced to the diet while continuing to breastfeed. If there is concern about a baby’s iron status, a hemoglobin test may be used to determine whether supplements or additional iron-rich foods are needed in the diet.
Vitamin D Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics indicate that babies should receive 400 IU of vitamin D per day, starting shortly after birth. This is an area of active research, and new information is becoming available about the reasons to consider vitamin D supplements. LLL’s publication for Leaders, Leaven, recently published a very helpful article summarizing recent research and changes to recommendations related to Vitamin D supplementation for breastfed babies:
Current research supports the recommendation to supplement babies, children, and adults with vitamin D. It’s important to note that this does not mean that human milk is deficient or inferior to formula. For the most part, our bodies have developed to produce vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. It’s not that human milk is faulty, but that our lifestyles and understanding of the risks of extensive sun exposure have changed. So the fact is that everyone is advised to consume supplemental vitamin D, not just breastfed babies. Older children and adults may get the recommended dose from supplements added to dairy products or a multivitamin, but a one-drop, vitamin D only preparation may be more appropriate for a breastfeeding baby.