Plasma and breast milk vitamin A as indicators of vitamin A status in pregnant women

R. D. Semba, N. Kumwenda, T. E. Taha, L. Mtimavalye, R. Broadhead, P. G. Miotti, W. Eisinger, D. Hoover, J. D. Chiphangwi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Breast milk vitamin A is not well characterized as an indicator of vitamin A status in women with infections. A controlled trial of vitamin A, 3 mg retinol equivalent/day, was conducted among 697 pregnant women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Malawi which allowed comparison of plasma versus breast milk vitamin A as indicators of vitamin A status. Retinol concentrations were measured in plasma at baseline (18-28 weeks) and 38 weeks gestation and breast milk at 6 weeks post-partum. Plasam α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured at baseline. Plasma retinol (geometric mean, SD) at 38 weeks was 0.72 (0.44, 1.18) and 0.61 (0.38, 0.98) μmol/L (P < 0.0002) and breast milk retinol was 1.32 (0.71, 2.43) and 0.95 (0.49, 1.82) μmol/L (P < 0.0001) in vitamin A and placebo groups, respectively. Women with elevated acute phase protein (AGP > 1 gm/L and/or CRP > 5 mg/L) at baseline who received vitamin A had significantly higher plasma and breast milk vitamin A at follow-up compared with placebo. Elevated acute phase proteins did not distinguish women with low body stores of vitamin A. Breast milk retinol appears to be a better indicator of vitamin A status than plasma retinol in women with infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Africa
  • Human immunodeficiency virus infection
  • Milk
  • Pregnancy
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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