Q. I read in your column a question from a mother whose child had recurrent ear infections. When my son was young, decades ago, he had lots of ear infections too. I finally took him to a specialist who said he needed ear tubes inserted surgically.
Meanwhile I read a book by Adelle Davis that suggested a pediatric vitamin supplement with D, E and A. I started him on the vitamin and when we returned to the specialist, his ears were clear. I told the doctor I gave him the vitamin supplements and he said he didn’t care if I gave him jellybeans. We never went back.
A. We hope that a doctor would not be so dismissive today. Vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon among babies and schoolchildren, and studies show that children who are deficient in this critical nutrient are more susceptible to recurrent ear infections (Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, June, 2013; Oct., 2013).
Many studies indicate that adequate vitamin D intake helps babies and children avoid infections. One shows that the mother’s vitamin D status during pregnancy affects the likelihood that her infant will suffer lower respiratory tract infections (Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, Nov., 2013). There is also some data to suggest that mothers with adequate vitamin D levels (possibly achieved through supplementation at 4,000 IU daily) are less likely to experience preterm labor, premature delivery and perinatal infection (American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feb. 2013). Low levels of vitamin D mean more pulmonary problems for youngsters with cystic fibrosis (Annals of the American Thoracic Society, online Oct. 1, 2013). In Mongolia, children randomly assigned to received vitamin D supplements (300 IU/day for three months) were significantly less likely to get respiratory infections during the winter (Pediatrics, Sept., 2013).
You will find more information about this critical nutrient in our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.