DEC 07, 2017 6:18 AM PST

Increasing Vitamin D for Preemies

The benefits of vitamin D seem to hit the news on a regular basis. There is growing evidence that keeping levels of the vitamin at optimal levels can ward off dementia and other age-related cognition issues.

Lower levels of the vitamin have been associated with a higher risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease, and diabetic complications. It's necessary for good bone health as well. New research from a study at the University of Nebraska Medical Center looked at the amount of vitamin D given to premature infants in neonatal intensive care units.

A baby is considered premature if he or she is a born before 37 weeks of gestation. Full term is a birth that happens at the 40th week of pregnancy or after. Among the health issues that early babies face is soft bones. Because they were not carried as long as a full-term infant, babies born early don't have ideal bone density and are at risk for fractures. Rickets, a disease that causes weak bones is often attributed to vitamin D deficiency. The standard of care in most NICU settings is a supplement of 400 IUs daily of vitamin D. The research from the University suggests that an increase to 800 IUs daily could result in fewer babies born with low bone density and thus, fewer babies who develop rickets.

Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., is an associate professor in the division of newborn medicine at the university and medical director of the NICU at Nebraska Medicine, UNMC's clinical partner. In a news release, she stated, "We are hopeful that neonatologists will consider giving pre-term infants 800 IUs. We know that even with standard vitamin D dosing, we were still seeing a fair number of pre- term infants who suffered from impaired bone health. This is another form of NICU therapy that can help decrease that risk."

Currently, there are several different recommendations for vitamin D doses in newborns. Groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Endocrine Society all have their own guidelines, and health care professionals decide what they think is best for each patient. Each group has research to back up their recommendations, but, according to Dr. Berry, the relationship between vitamin D and outcomes in preemie babies isn't an area of neonatal care that is well understood.

RELATED: Brain Development in Preemies

The study Berry was involved with looked at blood levels of vitamin D in premature babies who were given different doses. Each infant in the study was born between 24 and 32 weeks gestation. The children were divided into two groups who were given daily doses of vitamin D, one group got 400 IUs daily, and another group received double that dosage, 800 IUs daily. At the end of four weeks, the babies who were given the higher doses had better blood levels of the vitamin and better bone density. The infants at the higher daily dose also had growth improvements over the babies at 400 IUs, reducing their risk of developing rickets. Dr. Berry hopes that physicians will adopt the higher dose as the standard of care in NICU patients. The video below has more information.

Sources: University of Nebraska Medical Center, PLOS One, Forbes

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
OCT 06, 2020
Immunology
COVID Triggers Abnormalities in Immune Monocytes
OCT 06, 2020
COVID Triggers Abnormalities in Immune Monocytes
University of Manchester immunologists are the first to make an interesting observation about the white blood cells of p ...
OCT 05, 2020
Microbiology
Deadly Microbe Linked to Childhood Brain Disorder
OCT 05, 2020
Deadly Microbe Linked to Childhood Brain Disorder
Pediatric hydrocephalus - excessive fluid on the brain of a child - has been connected to a bacterial pathogen.
OCT 07, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Researchers Confirm Cerebral Palsy Has a Genetic Component
OCT 07, 2020
Researchers Confirm Cerebral Palsy Has a Genetic Component
Scientists have confirmed previous studies that have suggested that some cases of cerebral palsy are due to a genetic mu ...
OCT 09, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Older Adults Use Cannabis for Common Health Problems
OCT 09, 2020
Older Adults Use Cannabis for Common Health Problems
Researchers from the University of California San Diego have found that older adults tend to use cannabis for medical pu ...
OCT 18, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
OCT 18, 2020
Small RNA is Connected to Bacterial Pathogenicity
It's thought that as much as half of the global population carries a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori in their stoma ...
OCT 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
OCT 22, 2020
How a Gene Variant Raises the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
Now that sequencing the whole human genome is easier, faster, and cheaper than it used to be, scientists have been able ...
Loading Comments...