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AIDS. 2002 Sep 27;16(14):1935-44.

Randomized trial of vitamin supplements in relation to transmission of HIV-1 through breastfeeding and early child mortality.

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Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



HIV-1 transmission through breastfeeding is a global problem and has been associated with poor maternal micronutrient status.


A total of 1078 HIV-infected pregnant women from Tanzania were randomly assigned to vitamin A or multivitamins excluding A from approximately 20 weeks' gestation and throughout lactation.


Multivitamins excluding A had no effect on the total risk of HIV-1 transmission (RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.82-1.32, P= 0.76). Vitamin A increased the risk of transmission (RR 1.38, 95% CI 1.09-1.76, P = 0.009). Multivitamins were associated with non-statistically significant reductions in transmission through breastfeeding, and mortality by 24 months among those alive and not infected at 6 weeks. Multivitamins significantly reduced breastfeeding transmission in infants of mothers with low baseline lymphocyte counts (RR 0.37; 95% CI 0.16-0.85, P = 0.02) compared with infants of mothers with higher counts (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.68-1.45, P = 0.97; -for-interaction 0.03). Multivitamins also protected against transmission among mothers with a high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (P-for-interaction 0.06), low hemoglobin (P-for-interaction 0.06), and low birthweight babies (P-for-interaction 0.04). Multivitamins reduced death and prolonged HIV-free survival significantly among children born to women with low maternal immunological or nutritional status. Vitamin A alone increased breastfeeding transmission but had no effect on mortality by 24 months.


Vitamin A increased the risk of HIV-1 transmission. Multivitamin (B, C, and E) supplementation of breastfeeding mothers reduced child mortality and HIV-1 transmission through breastfeeding among immunologically and nutritionally compromised women. The provision of these supplements to HIV-infected lactating women should be considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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