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Babies from birth to their first birthday no longer have to receive vitamin A drops, but they must continue to receive drops with vitamin D3, pediatricians and tipat halav (well-baby) stations were informed Wednesday by the Health Ministry.
Vitamin A, even though it is fat soluble and accumulates in the body, is not dangerous in the dosage (one or two drops a day) that had until now been recommended by the ministry, said Dr. Lisa Rubin, acting director of the ministry's mother, infant and teenage health department.
But a subcommittee of the National Council on Pediatrics studied the matter and decided that there is enough vitamin A in Israeli infants' diets - whether they breast-feed or drink formula or have a combination of both - to make giving vitamin A unnecessary.
"There is periodic reevaluation, and now we say vitamin A need not be given," Rubin said. "The recommendation was released some time ago, but it took time until companies put on the market drops with Vitamin D and not A."
So far, only the CTS pharmaceutical company sells vitamin D drops (called Tiptipot), but two other companies are due to follow. Rubin said the vitamin is available in other forms, but D3 is preferable as it is the active metabolic form and thus most useful to the body. Iron drops should also be given separately according to tipat halav nurse instructions.
In the US, for example, vitamins A and D are not recommended for infants, but in Israel, Arab and haredi children are at especially high risk for soft bones because they generally wear clothing that covers their limbs around the year and do not expose themselves to much sun. Their mothers are also covered up, so their breast milk doesn't contain enough of the vitamin either.
Vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium and the mineralization of bone; when this vitamin (which is produced in skin exposed to the sun) is lacking, rickets can result.
One drop of vitamin D per day is recommended from birth to age one if the baby is fed formula. If the baby is breast-fed, two drops should be given daily during the first year. The drops should be kept out of babies' reach so they don't take an overdose, Rubin said.