MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ben Wheeler
Dr. Ben Wheeler MB ChB(Otago) DCH CCE FRACP
Senior Lecturer / Paediatrician / Paediatric Endocrinologist
Department of Women’s & Children’s Health : Te Tari Hauora Wāhine me te Tamariki
Dunedin School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Vitamin D is essential for calcium and bone metabolism. It is unique among vitamins in that it is mainly derived from synthesis in the
skin after exposure to UV-B radiation. In the absence of fortification, few foods are rich in vitamin D, including human milk, which contains very low amounts. Breastfeeding infants in higher latitude countries such as New Zealand, much of North America and
Central/Northern Europe are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
The most profound manifestation of vitamin D deficiency in growing children is rickets, characterized by bone deformities, impaired growth, biochemical abnormalities, and depending on the severity of deficiency, seizures. Studies also identified a number of common factors that potentially affect the risk of rickets, including darker pigmented skin, maternal vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, season of birth, and age.
A potential alternative strategy to improve the vitamin D status of breastfed infants is high-dose vitamin D supplementation to pregnant and lactating women. This would be attractive from a compliance perspective, promote exclusive breastfeeding, and treat both the mother and her infant.
Thus, the primary aim of this randomized, placebo-controlled study was to determine the effect of two different monthly doses of maternal vitamin D supplementation on the vitamin D status of non–vitamin D–supplemented breastfed infants and their mothers.