New research out of Qatar suggests that severe vitamin D deficiency may be especially problematic for newborns compared to babies older than six months.
Researchers out of Qatar, led by Dr Ashraf Soliman, took a look at 10 full-term newborns who presented to their hospital with symptomatic low blood calcium. The low blood calcium (hypocalcemia) was due to severe vitamin D deficiency. All of the newborns were symptomatic hypocalcemic because they were suffering from seizures.
When the researchers examined the mother’s vitamin D levels, they all had levels lower than 10 ng/ml.
The researchers then compared the newborns to babies over the age of 6 months who all had rickets due to severe vitamin D deficiency. They wanted to know, even though both suffer from severe vitamin D deficiency, how do other markers compare and why do newborns get seizures while older babies just get rickets?
They found that the older babies had much higher blood calcium, higher parathyroid hormone and lower alkaline phosphatase scores compared to the newborns.
This suggests that compared to newborns, older babies have somewhat adapted to vitamin D deficiency, as their bodies were able to prevent seizures by pulling calcium from their bones (and in consequence, they had rickets). The newborns, on the other hand, weren’t able to pull as much calcium from their bones and thus suffered from seizures.
The researches suggest that it’s then especially important to make sure newborns are getting their vitamin D. “In countries with high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, maternal vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy and early supplementation of vitamin D to newborns should be considered to avoid hypocalcemia and skeletal abnormalities in the newborns and growing infants.”