A recent study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition discovered an alarmingly high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in very low and extremely low birth weight babies.
Researchers included a total of 301 preterm infants with a birthweight of less than 3.3 pounds (<1,500 grams) in this study. These babies were admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) between January of 2013 and December of 2015 and were supplemented with 400 IU vitamin D. Vitamin D status was evaluated at four, eight and 12 weeks of age, or before discharge from the NICU. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as <20 ng/ml (50 nmol/l), insufficient 20-29 ng/ml (50-75 nmol/l), normal 30-60 ng/ml (75-150 nmol/l), high 61-100 ng/ml (150-250 nmol/l) and very high >100 ng/ml (>250 nmol/l).
This is what the researchers found:
- Of the babies included, 186 were considered very low birth weight (VLBW; 2.2 – 3.3 lbs) and 115 were considered extremely low birth weight (ELBW; < 2.2 lbs).
- At weeks four, eight and 12, vitamin D deficiency was found in 25%, 22% and 15% of the ELBW infants, and in 29%, 5% and 9% of the VLBW infants, respectively.
- There was a weak relationship between vitamin D intake and vitamin D status (p > 0.05).
- Nearly 80% of the included preterm infants were considered vitamin D deficient or insufficient at 4 weeks of age, despite oral supplementation.
The researchers concluded,
“Eighty percent of VLBW and ELBW infants of our population had either deficient or insufficient vitamin D status at 4 weeks of life.”
“Oral supplementation of vitamin D helped improve their vitamin D status overtime; increase in 25OHD levels was not dose dependent.”