When an Omaha, Nebraska, mother noticed her baby daughter was not growing as quickly as her twin brother, she began to worry. When doctors revealed what was causing the lack of growth, she never expected what they would tell her.
“We kept comparing the two of them, [saying] maybe she’s going to be little and he’s going to be big,” Becky Jackson told KETV.
As time passed and her daughter failed to catch up to her son’s growth, Jackson knew something was wrong. She took her daughter to the pediatrician to find out what was causing this.
Jackson says the pediatrician labeled her daughter as “failure to thrive,” meaning she has gained insufficient weight. The term is generally used to describe children heading toward malnourishment.
“I was scared,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
After blood tests were completed, doctors discovered Jackson’s daughter had suffered a toxic vitamin D overdose, causing high levels of calcium in her blood. She immediately rushed her daughter to the hospital.
“It can cause kidneys to have calcium deposits and kidney failure and it can cause irregular heartbeat,” said Dr. Monina Cabrera, pediatric endocrinologist at Omaha Children’s Hospital and Medical Center.
The baby was hospitalized for 10 days while doctors worked on stabilizing her. Cabrera also began investigating the source of the vitamin D overdose, coming to a conclusion that shocked Jackson.
“I did this,” Jackson said. “I did this. I had no idea there could be such a negative effect.”
Because Jackson had twins, she was only able to breast feed one twin with the amount of breast milk she produces. She decided to feed her son breast milk due to his sensitive stomach. For her daughter, she came across a recipe for a formula online, which included coconut milk, powdered goat’s milk and liquid vitamins. She quickly realized she had been using far too much vitamin D for her daughter’s body to handle.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, certain vitamin droppers on the market allow parents to mistakenly give their children too much vitamin D, which, as Jackson now knows, can be extremely harmful to young children.
Jackson was reportedly using an entire dropper full of vitamin D in each 32 ounces of formula when the recipe only called for one drop. Doctors estimate her child was receiving 8,000 times the amount of vitamin D she needed.
"I thought more must be good,” Jackson said.
After two months, Jackson’s daughter is still recovering from the overdose, but is beginning to grow after her mother switched to a store-bought formula.
Jackson hopes other parents can learn from her mistake.
“I think it’s important to realize the impact that vitamins can have, both negative and positive, and not to think it’s OK, that it’s just a vitamin,” the mother said.