Rickets Is Still a Concern for Canadian Infants
Rickets is a common childhood disease in developing countries. But did you know that it is still a health concern amongst infants in Canada?
Rickets is a bone disease that primarily affects infants and toddlers. It is caused by severe Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is needed for bone growth and development.
Without adequate amounts of vitamin D, bones become soft and weak, which can lead to rickets. Symptoms of rickets include susceptibility to fractures, stunted growth, thickened wrists and ankles, bowed legs and knock knees.
What are the risk factors for rickets?
- Inadequate vitamin D intake of the mother during pregnancy (e.g., lack of prenatal vitamins, avoidance of dairy products, limited exposure to sunlight).
- Inadequate vitamin D intake after birth (e.g., exclusive breast-feeding without supplementation, avoidance of dairy products, limited exposure to sunlight).
Rickets is easily prevented. You can protect your baby from developing rickets by ensuring that your baby receives adequate amounts of vitamin D, both during pregnancy and after birth.
During pregnancy. Health Canada recommends that pregnant women consume 600 IU of vitamin D each day – through diet and/or supplementation – to meet their own vitamin D requirements. It is also recommended that pregnant women take prenatal vitamins to allow the baby’s body to build up vitamin D stores before birth.
After birth. Health Canada recommends that babies under the age of 1 year should consume 400 IU of vitamin D each day, and those between 1 and 3 years of age should consume 600 IU of vitamin D each day – through diet and/or supplementation. Provide baby formulas, cow’s milk, and milk alternatives that are fortified with vitamin D. Infants who are exclusively breast-fed should be given 400 IU of vitamin D daily through supplementation, as breast milk is very low in vitamin D.