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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jun;75(6):959-70.

Micronutrients and vertical transmission of HIV-1.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA.


Vertical transmission of HIV from mother to infant can occur during pregnancy, at the time of delivery, or post-natally through breast-feeding and is a major factor in the continuing spread of HIV infection. Inadequate nutritional status may increase the risk of vertical HIV transmission by influencing mater-nal and child factors for transmission. The potential effects on these factors include impaired systemic immune function in pregnant women, fetuses, and children; an increased rate of clinical, immunologic, and virologic disease progression; impaired epithelial integrity of the placenta and genital tract; increased viral shedding in breast milk from inflammation of breast tissue; increased risk of low birth weight and preterm birth; and impaired gastrointestinal immune function and integrity in fetuses and children. Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent in many HIV-infected populations, and numerous studies have reported that these deficiencies impair immune responses, weaken epithelial integrity, and are associated with accelerated HIV disease progression. Although low serum vitamin A concentrations were shown to be associated with an increased risk of vertical HIV transmission in prospective cohort studies, randomized, placebo-controlled trials have reported that vitamin A and other vitamin supplements do not appear to have an effect on HIV transmission during pregnancy or the intrapartum period. However, the ability of prenatal and postpartum micronutrient supplements to reduce transmission during the breast-feeding period is still unknown.

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