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Vitamin C Deficiency & SIDS

There is a theory that vitamin C deficient acute infantile scurvy is the prime cause of SIDS. This has been proposed by a Dr. Archie Kalokinos of Australia. He wrote a book about this in 1974 in Australia; the US edition was published in 1981 by Keats Publishing of New Canaan, Connecticut. The book is called "Every Second Child". The claim is that daily Vitamin C supplementation to the mother from the time of conception onward will prevent SIDS in the baby. This theory was publicized (poorly) in the late 1970's in the US by way of a nationwide tour by the two Australian doctors involved in this research (Kalokerinos & Dr. Glen Dettermann). They also went to the NIH and were not well received.

Last year, I was contacted by a physician in Mexico who told me SIDS had disappeared in his village after he began to administer Vitamin C to all the pregnant women in his village and to the newborns after birth.

To date I know of no data to support these claims.

JDDeCristofaro, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director, Infant Apnea Program
UMC Stony Brook, NY

How does one administer vitamin C to an infant?

It is in breast milk and infant formula. It is also contained in all the infant liquid vitamin preparation.

Can you see any HARM that would come of it? What kinds of dosages (pre-natal and administered to the infant) would be appropriate - both according to the Australian doctors you mentioned, and in your own opinion?

Dr. Klenner gave 5-15 grams of vit C to moms each day throughout pregnancy and lactation. After babies were weaned from the breast he gave 1 gram per day for the first year of life.

Breast milk contains about 7-10 milligrams (= 0.007- 0.01 grams) of vit C per 100 kcal. Babies will eat about 100 to 150 kcal per kilogram of body weight each day. For example a 4 kg (8lbs 13 oz) baby eating 150 kcal/kg will get up to 60 mg of vit C per day if not given vitamin supplement. In comparison infant formulas have 9 mg of Vit C per 100 kcal.

The US RDA for vit C for infants is 35 mg (0.035 grams) per day. Vitamin supplements for infants, either tri-vi-sol, poly-vi-sol, vidaylin, etc. contain 35mg of vit C per daily dose.

The US RDA for Vit C during pregnancy is 70-80 mg/day and during lactation is 90-100mg/d. (These are one hundredth of what the Australian physicians were giving.)

Vitamin C is water soluble; it passes into the urine if there is no need for the body to absorb more.

THERE ARE DANGERS TO HIGH DOSE VIT C:
Vit C toxicity includes acidosis, decreased absorption of Vit B12, formation of kidney stones, excessive iron absorption, exacerbation of G6PD deficiency, depress serum copper and ceruloplasm levels.

I would recommend that no one give no more than the US RDA as a supplement to infants in the absence of a documented deficiency.

I hope this helps,

JDDeCristofaro, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Medical Director, Infant Apnea Program
UMC Stony Brook, NY

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