Calcium Deficiency In Babies - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

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Calcium is an essential mineral responsible for the normal formation and functioning of the heart, nerves, bone, muscles, and teeth (1). And, calcium deficiency in babies, termed hypocalcemia, might lead to complications in the growth and development of infants. Read more about the types, causes, symptoms, and treatment of hypocalcemia in babies.

Types Of Hypocalcemia

Hypocalcemia is characterized by lower levels of calcium in the circulating blood. It is termed neonatal hypocalcemia in babies. Your baby can get it due to different causes and at different times. Neonatal hypocalcemia is classified into two types (2):

Early hypocalcemia

It happens in the first two to three days of a baby’s life and is most likely curable.

Late hypocalcemia

It starts in the first week or a few weeks after the baby’s birth and is less likely to disappear.

Causes Of Calcium Deficiency In Babies

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A lack of adequate calcium in the diet can lead to calcium deficiency in adults. For babies, the causes can include the following (1) (3):

  • Low oxygen availability during childbirth
  • Maternal diabetes
  • Certain medicines such as Gentamicin
  • Feeding your baby formula milk or cow’s milk with excessive phosphate.
  • Vitamin D deficiencies since vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body.
Point to consider
Magnesium and calcium are co-dependent for absorption and excretion. Hence, magnesium deficiency can cause low calcium levels (2).
  • Certain infections
  • Stress due to some severe illnesses
  • Rare reasons such as DiGeorge Syndrome (DGS), a defect in chromosome no. 22.
  • Congenital hypothyroidism
  • Low vitamin D or calcium in the mother
  • Premature babies
  • Underactive parathyroid glands
  • Low magnesium levels
  • Babies with kidney failure
Things to know
Babies with slower than normal fetal growth may be more likely to have severe hypocalcemia (3).

Symptoms Of Calcium Deficiency In Babies

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Babies exhibit several symptoms while suffering from calcium deficiency, which includes (1) (3)

  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle aches
  • Jitteriness
  • Tremors
  • Poor feeding
  • Lethargy
  • Twitching
  • Jerking movements of limbs
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures due to a reduction in oxygen supply to the brain

Treating Calcium Deficiency In Neonates

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Early hypocalcemia usually resolves by itself without any intervention. However, in some cases, babies with late hypocalcemia may need calcium supplements in their feedings or via intravenous administration (IV) (3).

Quick fact
Calcium gluconate, a readily absorbable form of calcium, may be used for oral or IV administration in neonates (4).

Blood tests may be taken to determine the infant’s nutritional status. Then, the IV fluids administered may be tweaked accordingly to meet the infant’s needs in terms of essential nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium (4).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I give my baby more calcium?

You can include the following food items in your child’s diet to increase their calcium intake (5):

  • Food made of milk, such as cheese, yogurt, and puddings
  • Calcium-fortified bread and juice
  • Canned fish, such as sardines, salmon, and anchovies
  • Green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, and turnip greens

2. Which fruits are rich in calcium?

Not many fruits can be considered rich sources of calcium. Give your child calcium-fortified fruit juices to offer them the benefits of calcium (6).

3. Is banana rich in calcium?

Banana contains 12mg of calcium per 100g serving. Thus, it cannot be considered a rich source of calcium. However, it can help your child develop strong bones and muscles (7).

It is essential to consume calcium-rich foods during pregnancy to promote musculoskeletal and nervous system health. Milk and milk products such as yogurt, kefir, and cheese are rich sources of calcium. Oranges, bok choy, dates, broccoli, almonds, tofu, dried figs, kale, and oatmeal are other calcium-rich foods you can incorporate into your pregnancy diet. You may take calcium supplements as per your doctor’s recommendations during pregnancy and breastfeeding even though calcium-rich foods are consumed. Not consuming enough calcium can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis later.


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