The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released new guidelines on vitamin D requirements for preterm infants and very low birth weight infants. The guidelines were developed by Professor Steven A Abrams, MD, and the AAP Committee on Nutrition.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released requirements for all ages for the general population. However, preterm infants are considered a special population, so the IOM did not make any specific guidelines for these babies. Thus, the AAP felt there was a need to make guidelines for preterm infants.
Preterm infants are babies born less than 37 gestational weeks old. They can have poor bone health, likely because substantial bone mineralization occurs between 32 and 36 weeks of gestation. Although concrete data is lacking, it is estimated that anywhere between 10-20% of hospitalized preterm infants that weigh less than 1000 g (2.2 lbs) have rickets.
Therefore, vitamin D and calcium nutrition are very important to the development of preterm infants and very low birth weight infants, to ensure proper bone health and general development.
In their new guidelines, here is what the AAP recommends:
The Committee concluded,
“Small-for-gestational-age infants at or near term, such as is common in many global settings, may usually be provided minerals in the same way as larger infants of the same gestational age. Such infants should be monitored carefully for growth, and an adequate intake of vitamin D should be ensured.”