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Early Hum Dev. 1994 Nov 18;39(3):177-88.

Vitamin A and related essential nutrients in cord blood: relationships with anthropometric measurements at birth.

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Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, London, UK.


Following the advice given by the Department of Health to women who are, or may become pregnant, not to eat liver and liver products because of the risk of vitamin A toxicity, the concentrations of vitamins A and E, and copper, magnesium and zinc in cord blood were investigated. The study was conducted in Hackney, an inner city area of London. Esters of vitamin A were not detected in any of the samples, indicating that there was no biochemical evidence of a risk of toxicity. Indeed, vitamin A correlated significantly with birthweight, head circumference, length, and gestation period. There was also a significant positive relationship between zinc and birthweight. In contrast, copper showed a negative correlation with birthweight and head circumference. Vitamin E and magnesium were not associated with any of the anthropometric measurements, although magnesium showed an increasing trend with birthweight. The data suggest that most of the mothers of the subjects studied may have been marginal with respect to vitamins A and E and zinc. In those with low birthweight babies. a higher intake would have improved their nutritional status and possibly the outcome of their pregnancy. For these low-income mothers, liver and liver products are the cheapest and the best source of vitamins A and E, haem iron, B vitamins and several other essential nutrients; hence the advice of the Department of Health may have been misplaced.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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