HIV-1 positive mothers taking vitamin A increase risk of transmitting HIV to newborns

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But multivitamins excluding A reduce early child mortality

In many regions of Africa, between 15 and 30 percent of women attending prenatal care clinics are HIV-1 positive. And 20 to 45 percent of children born to HIV-1 positive mothers become infected through breastfeeding or during intrauterine or labor and delivery periods. Mother-to-child transmission of HIV-1 has been attributed in part to poor maternal micronutrient levels. Multivitamin supplementation has been viewed as a low-cost alternative in areas where drugs are not available. However, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Muhimbili University College of Health Services in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, found that women taking vitamin A increased the risk of transmission of HIV-1 to their newborn child compared to mothers who did not take vitamin A. The study results appeared in the Sept. 27, 2002, issue of the journal AIDS. “Our findings give little encouragement for the use of vitamin A supplements in HIV-1 positive pregnant women,” said Wafaie Fawzi, lead author of the study and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology. The study was supported in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.