What Causes High Calcium Levels in Infants?

Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2023

9 causes and risk factors

Smiling baby in a crib
High calcium levels in infants can be caused by excess nutrients (calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A), cancerous tumors, injury, infectious diseases, immobilization or bed rest, family history, and others.

Elevated levels of calcium in the blood indicate a condition known as hypercalcemia. The causes of high calcium levels may vary with age and other factors. High calcium levels in infants can be caused by the following factors:

  • Excess calcium in food
  • Excessive vitamin D intake leads to vitamin D intoxication. The active form of vitamin D can lead to the following consequences:
    • Increased calcium resorption in kidneys
    • Increased mineralization of bones
    • Increased calcium absorption in the intestines
  • Excessive vitamin A intake leads to increased calcium release from bone to blood
  • Primary hyperparathyroidism or an increase in parathyroid hormone (PTH) is caused by an adenoma (enlargement or a benign growth or tumor) in parathyroid glands. This elevation in PTH can lead to the following:
    • Increased release of calcium from bone to blood
    • Decreased phosphate levels in the blood
    • Increased activation of vitamin D
  • Cancerous tumors can lead to the following:
    • Bone invasion causing mineralization
    • Secretion of certain substances that cause an increased release of calcium in the blood
  • Injury to skin or fat tissue
  • Infectious diseases, such as leprosy and histoplasmosis, wherein the release of immune cells may in turn activate vitamin D, causing vitamin D intoxication
  • Immobilization or bed rest due to an illness leads to the decreased bone formation with a corresponding increase in calcium release in the blood.
  • Family history of genetic disorders, such as

What is hypercalcemia?

Hypercalcemia is characterized by elevated levels of calcium in the blood. Although rare in children, hypercalcemia can cause severe symptoms in them.

Calcium levels are controlled by two hormones called parathyroid hormone and calcitonin. Vitamin D also plays an important role in balancing calcium levels in the body as it helps absorb calcium from food.

What are the signs and symptoms of high calcium levels in infants?

Symptoms may vary based on the part of the body where it is affected. The following are the symptoms of hypercalcemia when it affects the nervous system

Symptoms of hypercalcemia in the gastrointestinal system include

Symptoms of hypercalcemia in the kidneys may include

Symptoms of hypercalcemia in the musculoskeletal system include


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How much calcium do children need?

The recommended amounts of calcium for different age groups are highlighted in the table below.

Table 1. Different age groups and their daily calcium requirements
Age group Recommended servings Daily calcium requirement
Younger than 6 months not applicable 200 mg

6 months to 11 months

not applicable 260 mg
1 to 3 years 2 to 3 servings 700 mg
4 to 8 years 2 to 3 servings 1,000 mg
9 to 18 years 4 servings 1,300 mg

How is hypercalcemia treated in infants?

Mild cases of hypercalcemia do not require treatment and can be managed by the following:

  • Increasing fluid intake
  • Restricting calcium or vitamin D intake
  • Changing the medications causing hypercalcemia

Treatment options for severe cases of hypercalcemia may include

  • Forced excretion of calcium using saline and diuretics, such as furosemide
  • Nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates, such as pamidronate, to avoid calcium loss from bones and osteoporosis
  • Injection of calcitonin, which prevents calcium loss from bones and increases calcium excretion in urine
  • Glucocorticoid treatment in children with excess vitamin D
  • Surgery may be recommended to remove a tumor in the parathyroid gland
  • Emergency medical attention may be required to prevent any further complications in infants, who have any underlying medical conditions that cause hypercalcemia
Medically Reviewed on 1/24/2023
Pediatric Hypercalcemia https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/920955-overview

Calcium https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/calcium.html