Vitamin A may not reduce maternal or infant death

Vitamin A or beta carotene supplementation does not seem to reduce risk of maternal or infant death, researchers have found.

Maternal vitamin A deficiency is widespread in low-income countries with the World Health Organisation estimating that nearly 20 million pregnant women have low levels of vitamin A. This deficiency is linked to gestational night blindness, which during pregnancy is associated with increased risks of maternal anemia, illness and death, suggesting that preventing vitamin A deficiency could improve maternal survival.

The effects of vitamin A on maternal survival may vary by severity of deficiency, mortality risk (by cause), general malnutrition, access to health services, and likely other factors, the authors of the study said. They concluded that 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.

Read more at JAMA