Can babies get vitamin D from the sun? | Child health | Health

Vitamin D is of great importance for the health of both adults and children. If initially pediatricians considered it mainly as an “antirachitic” vitamin, then later a much more significant effect of this nutrient on the child’s body was proven.

Supplementation is standard practice for preventing vitamin D deficiency in infants, and vitamin D is also known to be produced by sun exposure. figured out whether it is possible to expose babies to sunlight to prevent a deficiency of this vitamin, and whether it is harmful.

Can babies make enough vitamin D when they are in the sun?

Features of vitamin D metabolism in newborns have not been studied enough.

One study in India showed a positive correlation between afternoon sun exposure and infant vitamin D levels. To do this, scientists measured this indicator in the blood of infants who were exposed to sunlight on at least 40% of their body area for six months and beyond. The experts concluded that more than 30 minutes of afternoon sun exposure per week is likely to increase vitamin D levels to adequate levels. However, at the same time, it was found that even with intensive sun exposure, 90% of infants were still deficient in vitamin D and needed supplements.

Moreover, the studies conducted in India are not applicable to the inhabitants of Russia. The thing is that most of the territory of our country is located in the zone of low insolation, and the main part of the settlements is distinguished by a modest number of sunny days per year (no more than 40–70). In addition, the synthesis of vitamin D requires not just sunlight, but UV-B radiation, which does not reach the Earth’s surface in all regions of the Russian Federation. The synthesis of this vitamin in the skin almost completely stops with increased cloudiness, fog, dust storms, and air pollution. UVB radiation does not penetrate through windows, clothes, when using sunscreens with a high degree of protection. It should be borne in mind that the activity of vitamin D3 synthesis is associated with the degree of skin pigmentation. In a light-skinned child, this process will decrease as the tan intensifies, and in children with a dark skin color, it is completely minimal.

Is it dangerous for a baby to be in the sun?

Yes. The Union of Pediatricians of Russia reminds that being in direct sunlight increases the risk of photoaging and the development of skin cancer. Because of this, it is necessary to use sunscreens that hinder the production of vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that infants under six months of age should be completely protected from direct sunlight. Older children who are in the sun should wear hats and other protective clothing and have sunscreen applied to their skin.

How much vitamin D does an infant need?

In 2021, a new national program for the correction of vitamin D deficiency in children and adolescents in the Russian Federation was released, according to which the following preventive doses were taken:

– 0-1 month: 500 IU / day;

– 1 month -1 year: 1000 IU / day;

– 1-3 years: 1500 IU / day;

– 3-18 years old: 1000 IU/day.



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