Impact of a single megadose of vitamin A at delivery on breastmilk of mothers and morbidity of their infants

S. K. Roy, A. Islam, A. Molla, S. M. Akramuzzaman, F. Jahan, G. Fuchs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of vitamin A supplementation 24 h after delivery on breastmilk retinol concentration. Methods: Fifty low income women were randomly assigned to a single oral dose of 209 μmol of Vitamin A or none at delivery. Maternal serum and breastmilk retinol levels and infant morbidity and anthropometry were serially assessed. Results: Mean (95% CI) serum retinol levels increased in the supplemented mothers at 2.77 (2.3, 3.2) compared to 1.15 (0.9, 1.4) μmol/l in controls (P < 0.05) and remained at a significantly higher level of 1.59 (1.4, 1.8) μmul/l compared to 1.33 (1.8, 1.5) μmol/l in the control group (P < 0.001) up to a period of three months. Breastmilk retinol concentration was also greater at 24 h after supplementation, mean (CI) 11.34 (9.0, 13.7) μmol/l, compared to 2.95 (2.3, 3.6) μmol/l in the control group (P < 0.0001), and remained higher for the next six months at 1.06 (0.9,,1.3) μmol/l compared to 0.73 (0.6, 0.8) μmol/l in the control group (P < 0.02). Infants of the supplemented mothers had reduced mean duration of respiratory tract infection of 3.1 (2.7, 3.5) days compared to 3.7 (3.3, 4.2) days (P < 0.03) and mean incidence of febrile illness 0.1 (0.1, 0.1) compared to control infants 0.3 (0.3, 0.3) days, (P < 0.002). Conclusion: Vitamin A supplementation of malnourished mothers maintains higher breastmilk retinol concentration for at least six months and reduces the duration of respiratory tract infection and febrile illness in their breastfed infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-307
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgement—This study was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). The ICDDR,B is supported by the aid agencies of the Governments of Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States; international organizations including Arab Gulf Fund, Asian Development Bank, European Union, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO); private foundations including Aga Khan Foundation, Child Health Foundation (CHF), Ford Foundation, Population Council, Rockefeller Foundation and the Sasakawa Foundation; and private organizations including American Express Bank, Bayer A.G., CARE, Family Health International, Helen Keller International, the Johns Hopkins University, Macro International, New England Medical Centre, Procter Gamble, RAND Corporation, SANDOZ, Swiss Red Cross and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Iowa, and others. We thank Ms. Rekha Chanda and Mr. Dipak Barua for field work, Drs. Iqbal Kabir and Rafiqul Islam for reviewing the manuscript and Mr. K.M. Rafiq for preparation of this manuscript.


  • Breastmilk
  • Children
  • Morbidity
  • Postpartum
  • Retinol
  • Vitamin A deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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