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Latest Findings on Neonatal Vitamin A Supplementation

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A study by Michael Anthony Rotondi & Nooshin Khobzi posted on the World Health Organization Bulletin provides insight into the benefits of providing vitamin A supplementation to newborns. Their meta-regression analysis found a statistically significant relationship between the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency among pregnant women and overall infant mortality. This suggests that vitamin A supplementation for newborns within their first two days of life could save lives in regions where vitamin A deficiency is common.

According to the article, infants in developing countries may be especially vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency. Newborns enter the world with low stores of vitamin A and are dependent on external sources, such as breast milk. Lactating women who are vitamin A deficient are not able to supply adequate levels of vitamin A to their babies through breast milk. This appears to be most common in developing countries. Therefore, these babies might be especially at risk of not obtaining their daily requirements.

Infants who received vitamin A supplementation in studies done in Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia showed a reduction in all-cause mortality (15%, 22%, and 64%, respectively) when compared to control groups. However, trails in Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, and Zimbabwe failed to show benefits from vitamin A supplementation. In response to these contradictory findings, Rotondi and Khobzi hope their data will continue the debate and focus attention on infant mortality and its relationship to vitamin A supplementation, micronutrient deficiencies and nutrition in general.
Meta-regression plot of log relative risk of infant death in infants given vitamin A supplements as a function of the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in pregnant women. Taken from the Bulletin of the WHO.

By Nikki Heeren, Vitamin Angels. Vitamin Angels is a non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize and deploy private sector resources to advance availability, access and use of micronutrients, especially vitamin A, by newborns, infants and children in need. Vitamin Angels reduces child mortality worldwide by connecting essential nutrients.




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