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Clin Infect Dis. 1995 Oct;21(4):966-72.

Infant mortality and maternal vitamin A deficiency during human immunodeficiency virus infection.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


The maternal factors that contribute to high mortality rates among infants born to women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are unclear. We followed 474 HIV-infected mothers and their infants in Malawi from pregnancy through the infants' 12th month of life. Of the 474 HIV-infected pregnant women, 300 (63.3%) were deficient in vitamin A (serum level of vitamin A, <1.05 micromol/L). Mean serum vitamin A levels among mothers whose infants died were 0.78 +/- 0.03 micromol/L compared with 1.02 +/- 0.02 micromol/L among mothers whose infants had survived for the first 12 months of life (P <.0001). The overall infant mortality rate was 28.7%. We divided HIV-positive mothers into six groups according to serum vitamin A levels (micromol/L) as follows: group 1, <0.35; group 2, between 0.35 and 0.70; group 3, between 0.70 and 1.05; group 4, between 1.05 and 1.40; group 5, between 1.40 and 1.75; and group 6, >1.75. Infant mortality rates for each group were 93.3%, 41.6%, 23.4%, 18.5%, 17.7%, and 14.2%, respectively (P < .0001). Maternal vitamin A deficiency during HIV infection may contribute to increased infant mortality.

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