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Breast-Fed Infants Born in Northern U.S. at High Risk for Rickets

Many people erroneously assume rickets -- the softening of bones in children -- is a problem limited to young patients in developing countries. Truth is, babies, especially those born in the Northeast, face severe vitamin D deficiencies as well as their mothers that spike the risk for rickets, according to recent studies.

Half of the mothers living in Boston and almost two-thirds of their children had blood levels of vitamin D low enough to cause rickets (in babies) and osteomalacia (the adult form of rickets). Vitamin D deficiencies have become so acute, rickets is increasing among infants being breastfed.

What's more, rickets may be only the tip of the iceberg, as that lack of vitamin D may also lead to heart failure and seizures, both of which can be very fatal to a growing baby.

No surprise, vitamin D problems are occurring, especially now with Arctic temperatures plunging much of the Northern Hemisphere into the deep freeze, preventing mothers from getting all the healthy sunshine their bodies need.

So, if you must take an oral supplement to boost your vitamin D levels, like a high quality cod liver oil, for the short term, I urge you strongly to monitor your blood levels regularly, as I have observed cases too many cases of dangerous escalations of vitamin D levels, including my own.

Clinical Pediatrics, Vol. 46, No. 1, January/February 2007: 42-44

Pediatrics, Vol. 118, No. 2, August 2006: 603-610

Pediatric Emergency Care, Vol. 22, No. 11, November 2006: 728-731