Effects of vitamin A and β-carotene supplementation on birth size and length of gestation in rural Bangladesh: A cluster-randomized trial

Parul Christian, Rolf Klemm, Abu Ahmed Shamim, Hasmot Ali, Mahbubur Rashid, Saijuddin Shaikh, Lee Wu, Sucheta Mehra, Alain Labrique, Joanne Katz, Keith P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Micronutrient deficiencies may be related to poor fetal growth and short gestation. Few studies have investigated the contribution of maternal vitamin A deficiency to these outcomes. Objective: In rural northwestern Bangladesh, we examined the effects of weekly antenatal vitamin A and β-carotene supplementation on birth weight, length, circumferential body measures, and length of gestation. Design: With the use of a cluster-randomized, placebo-controlled trial design, pregnant women were enrolled in the first trimester and began receiving their allocated supplements (vitamin A, β-carotene, or placebo) weekly until 3 mo postpartum. Birth anthropometric measures were made at home. Results: Of 13,709 newborns whose birth weight was measured within 72 h of birth, mean (±SD) weight was 2.44 ± 0.42 kg, the prevalence of low birth weight (LBW) was 54.4%, and that of small-for- gestational age (SGA) was 70.5%. Birth weight, length, and chest, head, and arm circumferences did not differ between supplementation and placebo groups nor did rates of LBWand SGA. Mean gestational age at birth was 38.3 ± 2.9 wk, and 25.6% of births occurred before 37 wk. Neither gestational age nor preterm birth rate differed with vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation. Conclusions: In this rural South Asian population with a high burden of LBW and preterm birth but modest levels of maternal vitamin A deficiency, antenatal vitamin A or β-carotene supplementation did not benefit these birth outcomes. Other nutritional and nonnutritional interventions should be examined to reduce risks of these adverse outcomes in rural South Asia. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials. gov as NCT00198822.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-194
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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