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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar;63(3):332-9. Epub 2007 Oct 17.

Effect of vitamin supplementation on breast milk concentrations of retinol, carotenoids and tocopherols in HIV-infected Tanzanian women.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 2115, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE:

The effect of daily prenatal and postnatal vitamin supplementation on concentrations of breast milk nutrients is not well characterized in HIV-infected women. We examined the impact of vitamin supplementation during pregnancy and lactation on breast milk concentrations of retinol, carotenoids and tocopherols during the first year postpartum among 626 HIV-infected Tanzanian women.

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Women were assigned to one of four daily oral supplements: vitamin A+beta-carotene (VA+BC); multivitamins (MV; B, C and E); MV+VA+BC or placebo. Concentrations of breast milk nutrients were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography at birth and every 3 months thereafter.

RESULTS:

Supplementation with VA+BC increased concentrations of retinol, beta-carotene and alpha-carotene at delivery by 4799, 1791 and 84 nmol l(-1), respectively, compared to no VA+BC (all P<0.0001). MV supplementation did not increase concentrations of alpha-tocopherol or delta-tocopherol at delivery but significantly decreased concentrations of breast milk gamma-tocopherol and retinol. Although concentrations of all nutrients decreased significantly by 3 months postpartum, retinol, alpha-carotene and beta-carotene concentrations were significantly higher among those receiving VA+BC at 3, 6 and 12 months compared to no VA+BC. alpha-Tocopherol was significantly higher, while gamma-tocopherol concentrations were significantly lower, among women receiving MV compared to no MV at 3, 6 and 12 months postpartum.

CONCLUSIONS:

Sustained supplementation of HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers with MV could be a safe and effective intervention to improve vitamin E concentrations in breast milk. VA+BC supplementation increases concentrations of breast milk retinol but it is not recommended in HIV-infected mothers due to the elevated risk of vertical transmission.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00197756.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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