The Truth About Children’s Multivitamins

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Prescribing multivitamins for really young kids can be dangerous.You would think giving a young child a multivitamin would be a good thing. Anyone who has witnessed a baby grow from infancy to toddler age knows how miraculous this stage of life is—so many systems inside the body are developing and becoming increasingly more sophisticated. Not to mention the sheer change in size. It’s no wonder many parents and grandparents turn to multivitamins to support all this accelerated development.

But for really young kids, prescribing multivitamins may be a dangerous thing. Researchers have recently been looking at the effects of giving supplemental vitamins and minerals to infants and the results are alarming. There could be a link between excessive multivitamin use and autism.

Autism is a condition that’s been on the rise. Over a million people in the U.S. alone live with some form of autism. It’s estimated that one in 88 children will be diagnosed with autism, which makes autism the fastest growing developmental disability.

The reasons why people develop autism are complex and there’s a lot of debate about the possible triggers for the condition. What researchers do know is that for those who have autism, the brain works a little differently and this can make it difficult to function in society as an adult. According to the Autism Society, only 56% of students with autism finish school. And only 21% of adults with autism participate in the workforce compared with 69% of the general population.

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Because the number of children diagnosed with autism keeps rising, researchers want to know what is happening to cause the increase in diagnoses. Now a recent clinical trial suggests it might be because children are overprescribed multivitamins. Researchers hypothesized that taking too many vitamins and minerals may cause the brain to function in an abnormal way—much like it does in certain cases of autism.

According to the researchers, supplementing a child’s diet with a multivitamin at a very young age can elevate their levels of monoamines (substances that act like neurotransmitters, helping to carry information to and from the brain).

The researchers suggest that excess multivitamin feeding at the start of a child’s life could inadvertently trigger the inactivation or degradation of monoamine neurotransmitters.

You can avoid this danger by making sure your children or grandchildren get their vitamins and minerals from eating the right foods. Except for unusual circumstances where other health conditions cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies, Mother Nature has provided all the nutrients a child needs in the form of healthy, whole foods. Why take the risk?

Source(s) for Today’s Article:
“Facts and Statistics,” Autism Society web site;, last accessed April 8, 2013.
Zhou, S.S., et al., “Early infant exposure to excess multivitamin: a risk factor for autism?” Autism Res Treat, vol. 2013, Article ID 963697, 8 pages, 2013.