JAMA: Vitamin A In Developing Countries Does Not Reduce Risk of Maternal, Infant Death But Does Aid Night Blindness

June 6, 2011

The effect of vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation on pregnancy-related maternal, fetal, and early infant mortality was studied in women and their infants in rural northern Bangladesh.

Preventing vitamin A deficiency in women in developing countries may not improve maternal and infant survival, says a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The effect of vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation on pregnancy-related maternal, fetal, and early infant mortality was studied in women (596 community clusters) and their infants in rural northern Bangladesh between 2001 and 2007.

While pregnant, subjects received weekly supplementation of 700 mcg of retinol equivalents as retinyl palmitate, 42 mg of all-trans beta-carotene, or placebo.

However, vitamin A did show benefits for gestational night blindness. “Irrespective of mortality effects, achieving maternal adequacy in vitamin A through diet, supplementation, or fortification is an important public health goal, especially in populations in which night blindness commonly occurs during pregnancy,” the researchers wrote.