The American Academy of Pediatrics has doubled its recommendation for children's daily dose of vitamin D in the hopes of preventing rickets and reaping other health benefits, the group said Monday.
"We are doubling the recommended amount of vitamin D children need each day because evidence has shown this could have lifelong health benefits," said Dr. Frank Greer of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which released the new recommendations at a meeting in Boston.
The new guidelines from the nation's leading group of pediatricians call for children to receive 400 international units of vitamin D per day, beginning in the first few days of life.
Children who do not get enough vitamin D are at risk for rickets, a bone-softening disease that results in stunted growth and skeletal deformities if not corrected while the child is young. Babies who are exclusively breast-fed are at particular risk because nursing mothers tend to be deficient in the vitamin too.
Dr. Carol Wagner, who helped write the pediatricians' report, urged in a statement that breast-fed infants receive vitamin D supplements.