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Prenatal vitamins leaving infants deficient in vitamin D

Posted on: June 12, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


New research out of Italy has found that prenatal supplement recommendations are too low to ensure vitamin D sufficiency in newborns, particularly for those with darker skin types.

The researchers measured vitamin D levels of 62 infants born at term. Thirty-two of the infants were born to Italian mothers with fair skin. Thirty were born to non-Caucasian mothers, ten of which had light brown skin and twenty of which had medium brown/black skin. The thirty non-Caucasians had origins from Africa, Asia, North Africa and Latin America.

All mothers of the infants took prenatal vitamins which contained 400 IU of vitamin D. The researchers wanted to know if this intake – still recommended by some organizations – was adequate for all offspring of various ethnicities.

The researchers found that this kind of prenatal supplementation is inadequate, particularly for those with darker skin. Infants born to fair skin mothers had a mean vitamin D level of 17.1 ng/ml. Infants born to light brown skin mothers had a mean vitamin D level of 8.3 ng/ml and infants born to medium brown skin mothers had a mean vitamin D level of 15.3 ng/ml.

The researchers concluded,

“The present study demonstrates a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency both in cord blood and in neonatal serum with significant differences due to ethnicity, skin color and presence or absence of supplementation. Identifying vitamin D deficiency at birth is essential for the development of public policy for prevention and supplementation.”


Cadario F et al. Vitamin D status in cord blood and newborns: ethnic differences. Ital J Pediatr, 2013.

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