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Are preterm infants receiving adequate vitamin D supplementation in hospitals?

Posted on: February 20, 2015   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent study published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health found that a standardized nutrition protocol was effective at raising vitamin D levels in preterm infants.

Preterm infants have a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in ensuring the normal growth and development of an infant.

Some research has found that low vitamin D levels during infancy relates to a higher risk of impaired language development, allergies, and respiratory distress syndrome, which is the number one cause of death for preterm infants.

A study from 2014 found that 64% of preterm infants were vitamin D deficient at birth, and 35% of these infants remained vitamin D deficient upon being discharged from the hospital. These results suggest that vitamin D supplementation for preterm infants during their stay at the hospital was inadequate for the majority of the infants who were deficient.

In a recent study, researchers wanted to re-evaluate the effectiveness of a hospital’s vitamin D practices in meeting current supplementation recommendations by comparing the vitamin D levels of 28 infants at birth to their vitamin D levels at discharge.

The study took place in the Neonatal Unit at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia. All infants received a standardized nutrition protocol with an emphasis on vitamin D supplementation.

The researchers found that the proportion of vitamin D-deficient infants decreased from at birth to discharge (32.1% versus 7.1%, p = 0.016). Vitamin D levels increased from an average of 18.4 ng/ml to 29.2 ng/ml. The average vitamin D intake was reported at 643.6 IU daily.

This research shows that some hospitals are beginning to recognize the importance of vitamin D in early development.


Pinto K., et al. Vitamin D in preterm infants: A prospective observational study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 2015.

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