European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 164, Issue 12, pp 724–729 | Cite as

Breastfeeding and vitamin D status in Greece during the first 6 months of life

  • Anna Challa
  • Agathi Ntourntoufi
  • Vasilios Cholevas
  • Maria Bitsori
  • Emmanuel Galanakis
  • Styliani Andronikou
Original Paper


Since no foods are vitamin D supplemented in Greece, vitamin D status was assessed in mothers at birth and their infants up to the first 6 months of life, while they were exclusively breast-fed. This was a prospective study. Full-terms ( n =35) born during the summer-autumn months and their mothers were assigned to the summer group and the remainder ( n =31) to the winter group. One week after birth, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) was significantly lower in the winter-born than in the summer-born neonates (6.7±0.7 vs. 10.1±0.9 ng/ml, P <0.01). The respective levels of parathyroid hormone (iPTH) were 64.9±13.4 and 33.9±4.4 pg/ml ( P <0.01). The mothers had serum 25OHD levels of 10.8±1.0 ng/ml and iPTH levels of 15.2±3.5 pg/ml in the winter and 12.9±1.3 ng/ml and 24.8±4.8 pg/ml in the summer. During the 6-month follow-up, a steady increase in circulating 25OHD (up to 19.4±2.8 ng/ml, P <0.0001) and a decrease in iPTH (to 26.8±3.5 pg/ml, P =0.10) were observed in the infants born in the winter. In the summer-born infants, serum 25OHD did not change but iPTH had increased significantly by the 3rd month (59.4±21.8, P <0.05). Serum calcium (Ca) increased within normal limits during the study period in both groups. Serum phosphorus (Pi) started higher in the winter group (7.43±0.38 vs. 6.27±0.23 mg/dl, P <0.01) but thereafter, it was similar in both groups. Total alkaline phosphatase (ALP) increased in both groups during the study (164±15 vs. 219±17 IU/l, P <0.05 and 189±14 vs. 288±35 IU/l, P <0.001, respectively). Serum osteocalcin (OC) decreased in the winter-born neonates (32.0±3.4 vs. 21.5±3.4 ng/ml, P <0.05) and did not change in the summer group (28.9±3.5 vs. 26.5±2.8 ng/ml). Conclusion:Neonates who are breast-fed exclusively during the first 6 months of life are in need of vitamin D supplementation irrespective of the season even in a sunny country like Greece where foods are not supplemented.


Breastfeeding Full-term infants Vitamin D 



total alkaline phosphatase




crown-heel length


25-hydroxyvitamin D


intact parathyroid hormone




inorganic phosphorus


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Challa
    • 1
  • Agathi Ntourntoufi
    • 2
  • Vasilios Cholevas
    • 1
  • Maria Bitsori
    • 3
  • Emmanuel Galanakis
    • 3
  • Styliani Andronikou
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child HealthUniversity of Ioannina Medical SchoolIoannina Greece
  2. 2.Neonatology Division, Department of Child HealthUniversity of Ioannina Medical SchoolIoannina Greece
  3. 3.Department of PaediatricsMedical School, University of CreteHeraklion Greece

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