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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 May 1;24(1):37-44.

Randomized controlled trial assessing the effect of vitamin A supplementation on maternal morbidity during pregnancy and postpartum among HIV-infected women.

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  • 1Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York City, New York 10032, USA.



To determine whether low-cost treatment of HIV using vitamin A would be beneficial, we examined the effect of vitamin A supplementation on morbidity of HIV-1 infected women.


We conducted a randomized, double blind placebo-controlled trial at King Edward VIII Hospital, in Durban, South Africa. In total, 312 HIV-seropositive pregnant women between 28 and 32 weeks' gestation were recruited into this trial. Patients were randomized to receive placebo or 5,000 IU retinyl palmitate and 30 mg beta-carotene daily. At delivery of their children, patients received placebo or 200,000 IU retinyl palmitate. The main outcome measures were pre- and postnatal report of HIV-related symptoms.


Vitamin A did not confer any significant beneficial effect on the report of either HIV or pregnancy-related symptoms during the pre- or postnatal period.


In this study of HIV-infected pregnant women, vitamin A supplementation given in doses designed to decrease mother-to-infant transmission did not result in significant beneficial effect on reported symptoms pre- or postnatally. Further investigation with larger number of participants, tailoring supplementation for specific clinical conditions, outside the context of pregnancy, is required to help clarify the possible clinical benefits of vitamin A.

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