Prenatal Vitamin A May Not Reduce Mortality

Vitamin A and beta carotene not tied with reduced pregnancy-related or infant mortality rate

WEDNESDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- Weekly supplementation with vitamin A or beta carotene during pregnancy is not associated with a reduction in pregnancy-related or infant mortality in Bangladesh, according to a study published in the May 18 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Keith P. West Jr., Dr.PH., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues assessed the role of vitamin A or beta carotene supplementation in decreasing pregnancy-related and infant mortality. The study included 125,257 married 13- to 45-year-old pregnant women from rural northern Bangladesh, identified between 2001 and 2007, and their live-born infants. Women were randomly allocated to receive weekly supplements of 7,000 µg of retinol equivalents (as retinyl palmitate), 42 mg of all-trans beta carotene, or placebo from the first trimester to 12 weeks postpartum. Outcomes measured were pregnancy-related all-cause mortality, still birth, and infant mortality up to 12 weeks postpartum.

The investigators found that the number of all-cause deaths and pregnancy-related deaths were not significantly different for women in either of the supplementation groups compared with placebo. Relative risks for mortality were not significant. There were no significant differences between the groups with respect to the rate of still birth and infant mortality. Compared to placebo or beta carotene supplementation, vitamin A supplementation was associated with increased retinol concentrations and decreased gestational night blindness.

"In this study, weekly supplementation of vitamin A and beta carotene in pregnant women in Bangladesh did not reduce all-cause maternal, fetal, or infant mortality," the authors write.

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