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Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Sep 1;35(5):618-24. Epub 2002 Aug 2.

Antenatal vitamin A supplementation increases birth weight and decreases anemia among infants born to human immunodeficiency virus-infected women in Malawi.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Vitamin A is essential for immunity and growth. A controlled clinical that involved 697 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected pregnant women was conducted to determine whether vitamin A prevents anemia, low birth weight, growth failure, HIV transmission, and mortality. Women received daily doses of iron and folate, either alone or combined with vitamin A (3 mg retinol equivalent), from 18-28 weeks' gestation until delivery. In the vitamin A and control groups, respectively, the mean (+/-SE) birth weights were 2895+/-31 g and 2805+/-32 g (P=.05), the proportions of low-birth-weight infants were 14.0% and 21.1% (P=.03), the proportions of anemic infants at 6 weeks postpartum were 23.4% and 40.6% (P<.001), and the respective cumulative proportions of infants who were HIV infected at 6 weeks and 24 months of age were 26.6% and 27.8% (P=.76) and 27.7% and 32.8% (P=.21). Receipt of vitamin A improved birth weight and neonatal growth and reduced anemia, but it did not affect perinatal HIV transmission.

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