e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Vitamin D supplementation in infants

Infants are born with low vitamin D stores and are dependent on breast milk, sunlight or supplements as sources of vitamin D in the first few months of life. Vitamin D deficiency in infants can lead to bone malformation (rickets), seizures and difficulty breathing.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency because the vitamin D content of breast milk is low and dependent on maternal vitamin D status. Furthermore, sun exposure may be restricted for cultural or other reasons, and infants born at high latitudes will have more limited exposure to the sun. Vitamin D deficiency is also still prevalent among infants living in settings where foods are fortified with vitamin D, and in countries with year-round sun exposure.

Existing evidence suggests that vitamin D supplements may be effective in preventing rickets, particularly for infants and children who may be at higher risk due to limited sun exposure or those with darker skin pigmentation. Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available


Related Cochrane reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

25 March 2014 13:32 CET

Category 2 intervention

Systematic review(s) have been conducted but no recent guidelines yet available that have been approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee


There is not yet any implementation information related to this intervention in GINA