The Curious Case of Breastfeeding & Vitamin D Drops
Last year when P was about six months old our pediatrician prescribed a multi-vitamin. He instructed us to place a dropper full in P's bottle once a day. I picked up the prescribed multi-vitamin, brought it home, and began to examine the packaging. The first thing I noticed was that the drops were an Enfamil product. I was immediately suspicious. "OH! So they know the breastfeeding mother's won't be buying their product and decided to manufacture a Vitamin D/multi-vitamin product in order to gain market share! Awful!". I was displeased but I trusted my pediatrician.
The drops had an awful coppery odor to them. First we tried to orally administer the vitamin to P. He went CRAZY. He did not like the drops. Then we mixed them into his bottle which he was reluctant to drink. I was not too happy to waste 6 oz. of breast milk because of these nasty drops. I decided to put the experiment on hold and do some research. According to KellyMom.com it was highly unlikely that P had a vitamin D deficiency. My husband and I made the decision to discontinue the drops and ensure that P was exposed to enough sunlight and that my vitamin D levels were sufficient. Everyone was happy.
Eight months later I was blessed with another child. The pediatrician prescribed the same drops. This time I knew better. I asked the doctor whether there were any alternatives that were not marketed by a formula company (keep in mind that P had to be formula fed once I became pregnant and lost my supply). It seemed like a conflict of interest. In addition the taste and smell were horrific and an infant shouldn't be exposed to artificial colors and flavors needlessly. The pediatrician agreed and stated that he would prescribe the same drops but that I was welcome to locate a natural alternative. He asked that I keep him informed so that he can recommend them to others with the same concerns,
As usual Twitter came to the rescue. @Jonniker told me where I could locate colorless and odorless all natural drops. They were significantly more expensive (and not covered by insurance) but I would much rather support a vendor with no ties to the formula industry. I am not sure whether either child truly has a vitamin D deficiency. To be completely honest I think it is a total hustle. However I decided to play it safe since C rarely goes outside at this point in her life (neither do I) and we do have an incredibly long and dark winter (I also slather myself with sunscreen year round).
I am not a breastfeeding expert. My area of expertise is calling people that harass nursing mothers ugly. That is what I am good at. Classy I know. In the areas of lactation expertise I defer to women like @Blacktating, @mamapeardesigns, and@DagmarBleasdale.
Elita at Blacktating wrote a post regarding the possibility that some breastfed babies ARE vitamin D deficient. Her article referes to a NYT article which mentions pediatricians' reluctance to discuss the issue with breastfeeding mothers so as to not discourage them from breastfeeding. I also read a post on Babble's Strollerderby blog regarding the same issue.
Since I am not an expert I cannot with one hundred percent certainty make the determination that my children absolutely need vitamin D supplementation. I know that it is my responsibility as a parent to research and educate myself before making any decision regarding my children's health but I am tired. Moms are tired. I do wish sometimes that I could believe what I was told by my pediatrician, kellymom.com, anyone (!) without questioning the information a million times.