The HSE recently launched its policy on Vitamin D Supplementation for infants in Ireland.
Vitamin D is essential to help our bodies use calcium to build and maintain bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ because our bodies can make Vitamin D from the sun. Ireland’s geographic position in Northern Europe means that there is inadequate sunlight to allow sufficient vitamin D production in our skin, especially between the months of October and March. It is not possible for babies to safely get the vitamin D they need in this way as their skin should not be exposed to direct sunlight. As babies grow very quickly between 0-12 months they have a greater need for vitamin D and since a babies diet is low in Vitamin D, there is a need to give babies a daily Vitamin D supplement.
The Department of Health & Children has endorsed the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s (FSAI) recommendation that ‘All infants, whether breastfed or formula fed, should be given a daily supplement of 5µg (or 200I.U) Vitamin D. This should be provided by a supplement containing vitamin D exclusively’.
The HSE Policy on Vitamin D Supplementation has been developed to implement this recommendation. The policy with supporting documentation has been distributed internally to all relevant staff.
The policy supports health professionals in advising parents / carers about the importance of Vitamin D supplementation. Community and Hospital Dietitians are informing and supporting front line healthcare workers on the need for Vitamin D supplementation for infants. Information about the policy has been circulated to general practitioners, pharmacists and practice nurses.
A public awareness campaign to highlight the policy to expectant and new mothers on the need for infant vitamin D supplementation is being rolled out in early 2011.
HSE Policy on Vitamin D Supplementation
Information for Health Professionals on Vitamin D Supplementation Policy
Vitamin D public information poster
Vitamin D public information leaflet
Copies of the leaflet and poster can be ordered on www.healthpromotion.ie or by contacting your local Health Promotion Department.
Information leaflets for parents/ carers and health professionals in various languages