Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vitamin D deficiencies

I've been meaning to post this for a while (like a lot of other things!) because I thought this might be important for other adoptive parents to know.

When our girls' bloodwork came back, all of their vaccinations looked good so they will not be redoing any of the vaccinations that were already done. However, one of the additional things that was tested was their vitamin D levels. Apparently in the past year vitamin D levels have become a big concern in the medical community, and they have recently started recommending that internationally adopted children be tested for vitamin D levels.

The normal levels are 30-100 ng/mL. Our girls tested at 7 and 10 ng/mL, so they are considered extremely vitamin D deficient. Our pediatrician prescribed vitamin D for the girls--4000 IU per day for 30 days to bring their levels up to normal. However, when we went to fill the prescription it was going to be $150 per prescription. After calling our (fantastic! wonderful! love her!) pediatrician, she did a bunch of research including calling the endocrinologist who works with their practice and several pharmacies. She waited to call us until she had found a pharmacy that carries over-the-counter vitamin D drops (in olive oil) with a concentration of 2000 IU per drop. We bought one bottle which contains 900 drops for $16. Much better than the original $300 for the prescription! :)

Vitamin D is not something the boys were tested for when they came home, so I am a little concerned that they too may be deficient. Apparently with levels as low as the girls you cannot make up that large of a deficiency with a normal diet, even with daily multivitamins. Lack of vitamin D prevents proper calcium storage and use thus leading to bone growth problems (rickets and others). We are hoping to have the boys' vitamin D levels tested the next time they go to the doctor, but I especially wanted other adoptive parents to be aware of this as I would imagine with the lack of sun exposure and poor diets in most of the orphanages that this may be a problem for most of our kids.


Tami said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll make sure Maddie is tested when we take her for her school physical. I would imagine the other three would be caught up by now...10 and 7 years later.

Missy said...

Wow, thank you for that! I never had any of my 3 Russians tested for that, but we'll do it for Simon when he comes home next month!

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker but thought I might be able to help as I spent six months researching vitamin d deficency in infants last year as we have a massive problem in NZ.
I am sure your doctor made you aware of all the foods that contain or tend to be fortified vitamin D but in case they didn't fortified milks, yoghurt and margarines are a good start as is oily fish. In NZ we have a supplement called vitadol C which is given to premature infants which is high in Vitamin D. Also sun exposure of face and arms for 10-15 minutes a day (with no protective cream)is enough in summer. In winter exposure needs to be far longer.
As vitamin d deficency is now been linked to many illnesses including rickets, respiratory illness and maybe some cancers it is definetly worth sorting it out. Children with higher levels of pigmentation need far more sun exposure than those who are lighter skinned.
Hope this helps,
Ps I love following your journey it has given me heart for international adoption - if only it wasn't so hard in NZ.

Katie said...

Those vitamin D drops are great - I got some for Hazel (for some reason, docs recommend supplementing vitamin D when babies are exclusively breastfed - something about not getting enough of it from me) - and one drop per day was all she needed - so easy, and so much cheaper than even the other standard baby multivitamins.
Hope things go smoothly for the surgeries next week too!

Leslie G said...

Thanks so much for posting this info!
Did they recommend you test your boys even though they have been home a while? We adopted a few months before you adopted your boys, that's why I was asking. I emailed this info to our pediatrician last night, but haven't heard back from him yet. I was kind of curious, if children can eventually catch up, and how long it would take? Any ideas?

Courtney said...

Our pediatrician made it sound like (with levels like the girls) that they would never be able to catch up just through regular diet, sunshine, and multivitamins. We're going to have the boys tested the next time they go in, so I'll let you know.

The McEacherns said...

Thanks for the heads-up! One more thing to put on our post-adoption check-up checklist! Blessings!

MamaPoRuski said...

We hadn't heard of this one either. Great heads up!

Mike said...

If you are interested in vitamin D you should take a look at The Canadian Cancer Society now recommends that everyone take vitamin D to prevent cancer. The site has good summaries of the data and offers a new preparation of vitamin D in a micro-pill formulation. The pills have been formulated with cellulose which absorbs water very quickly. This ensures that the pill breaks up very quickly to provide for maximum absorption. The micro pill is tiny and tasteless. Many vitamin D pills on the market have very poor dissolution properties resulting in poor absorption.
The site also offers to supply customers with a free supply of 400IU for their children and it also has a good newsletter.