Vitamin A is essential for immunity and growth. A controlled clinical that involved 697 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected pregnant women was conducted to determine whether vitamin A prevents anemia, low birth weight, growth failure, HIV transmission, and mortality. Women received daily doses of iron and folate, either alone or combined with vitamin A (3 mg retinol equivalent), from 18-28 weeks' gestation until delivery. In the vitamin A and control groups, respectively, the mean (± SE) birth weights were 2895 ± 31 g and 2805 ± 32 g (P = .05), the proportions of low-birth-weight infants were 14.0% and 21.1% (P = .03), the proportions of anemic infants at 6 weeks postpartum were 23.4% and 40.6% (P<.001), and the respective cumulative proportions of infants who were HIV infected at 6 weeks and 24 months of age were 26.6% and 27.8% (P = .76) and 27.7% and 32.8% (P = .21). Receipt of vitamin A improved birth weight and neonatal growth and reduced anemia, but it did not affect perinatal HIV transmission.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: National Institutes of Health (grants HD-32247 and HD-30042; contract AI-35173-117, Fogarty International Center) and United States Agency for International Development (cooperative agreement HRN-A-00-97-00015-00). Micronutrients for this study were generously donated by BASF.