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Lancet. 1998 May 16;351(9114):1477-82.

Randomised trial of effects of vitamin supplements on pregnancy outcomes and T cell counts in HIV-1-infected women in Tanzania.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



In HIV-1-infected women, poor micronutrient status has been associated with faster progression of HIV-1 disease and adverse birth outcomes. We assessed the effects of vitamin A and multivitamins on birth outcomes in such women.


In Tanzania, 1075 HIV-1-infected pregnant women at between 12 and 27 weeks' gestation received placebo (n=267), vitamin A (n=269), multivitamins excluding vitamin A (n=269), or multivitamins including vitamin A (n=270) in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with a 2x2 factorial design. We measured the effects of multivitamins and vitamin A on birth outcomes and counts of T lymphocyte subsets. We did analyses by intention to treat.


30 fetal deaths occurred among women assigned multivitamins compared with 49 among those not on multivitamins (relative risk 0.61 [95% CI 0.39-0.94] p=0.02). Multivitamin supplementation decreased the risk of low birthweight (<2500 g) by 44% (0.56 [0.38-0.82] p=0.003), severe preterm birth (<34 weeks of gestation) by 39% (0.61 [0.38-0.96] p=0.03), and small size for gestational age at birth by 43% (0.57 [0.39-0.82] p=0.002). Vitamin A supplementation had no significant effect on these variables. Multivitamins, but not vitamin A, resulted in a significant increase in CD4, CD8, and CD3 counts.


Multivitamin supplementation is a low-cost way of substantially decreasing adverse pregnancy outcomes and increasing T-cell counts in HIV-1-infected women. The clinical relevance of our findings for vertical transmission and clinical progression of HIV-1 disease is yet to be ascertained.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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