Vitamin A Linked to Lower Infant Mortality

July 10, 2008

Administering a one-time vitamin A supplement to newborns in Bangladesh within a few days of birth was associated with a lower risk of mortality through six months, according to research published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- Administering a one-time vitamin A supplement to newborns in Bangladesh within a few days of birth was associated with a lower risk of mortality through six months, according to research published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Rolf D.W. Klemm, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from 15,937 infants born to mothers in a low-socioeconomic rural area in Bangladesh with a high prevalence of maternal night blindness, which can be a result of vitamin A deficiency. Infants received 50,000 IU of vitamin A or placebo at a median age of seven hours.

Compared to the control group, infants treated with vitamin A had a 15 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality at 24 weeks, the researchers report. Newborn supplementation with the vitamin appears to be safe in terms of short- and long-term adverse effects, they note.

"Studies elsewhere in Bangladesh reveal that acute lower-respiratory infections and diarrhea are major causes of postneonatal death. In Indonesia, clinic visits for cough and fever, suggestive of pneumonia, were reduced in vitamin A-supplemented infants. In India, neonatal vitamin Areduced case fatality related to febrile disease by 40 percent, although the effect was weaker when fever was combined with symptoms of respiratory infections," the authors write. "Adequate, timely and effective newborn vitamin A dosing programs require innovative community approaches in South Asia, where typically more than 90 percent of infants are born at home. "

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