Infections in pregnant and lactating women

Recent data from Nepal suggest that pregnant women with clinical vitamin A deficiency (i.e. night-blindness) are at higher risk of infectious-disease morbidity (Christian et al., 1998) and mortality (Christian et al., 2000b). Weekly vitamin A or p-carotene supplementation appeared to reduce the risk of infectious disease morbidity and mortality among these women, suggesting that vitamin A status may be important in pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality (West et al., 1999; Christian et al., 2000a). Vitamin A or p-carotene reduced all-cause mortality, and further work is needed both to replicate these findings and to determine the types of infections that might be reduced through improving vitamin A status during pregnancy. The recent trial in Nepal appears to corroborate earlier trials from England, which showed that vitamin A supplementation reduced the morbidity of puerperal sepsis (Cameron, 1931; Green et al., 1931).

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