Results of a University of Nebraska Medical Center study shows that higher doses of vitamin D increase bone density in premature babies.
The study was published by the Public Library of Science on Wednesday.
The study found if the standard supplementation of vitamin D is increased to twice the amount daily, there are reductions in the number of premature and preterm babies with extremely low bone density.
Physicians have been prescribing vitamin D in premature and preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to prevent rickets, a disease that causes soft, weak bones in children and is often associated with vitamin D deficiency.
In spite of this, a sizeable number of infants still develop rickets, said Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., associate professor in the division of newborn medicine and medical director of the NICU at Nebraska Medicine, UNMC’s clinical partner.
Researchers saw an improvement in bone density and vitamin D levels in the blood at four weeks. They also saw improvement in growth that significantly decreased the risk of infants having very low bone density.
“We are hopeful that neonatologists will consider giving pre-term infants 800 IUs,” Dr. Anderson Berry said. “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.”
She said the study is one of the first to look at higher dosing of vitamin D in premature infants. Information will be incorporated as a recommended practice for health professionals.