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Maternal Vitamin A Improves Offspring’s Lung Function

Last Updated: May 12, 2010.

Maternal vitamin A supplementation before, during, and after pregnancy in an undernourished population appears to result in improved lung function in offspring, according to a study reported in the May 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal vitamin A supplementation before, during, and after pregnancy in an undernourished population appears to result in improved lung function in offspring, according to a study reported in the May 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

William Checkley, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues performed spirometry during 2006 to 2008 in 1,371 Nepali children aged 9 to 13, who were among a cohort of children whose mothers had participated in a randomized trial of vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation during 1994 to 1997. The researchers compared the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) in the children.

After adjustment for age, sex, body mass index and other variables, the researchers found that the children whose mothers took vitamin A had FEV1 and FVC readings significantly higher than the children of those who took placebo (on average, 46 ml higher for both FEV1 and FVC; P = 0.03 and P = 0.02, respectively). However, the children of the mothers who took beta carotene had FEV1 and FVC levels similar to the group whose mothers took placebo: FEV1, 14 ml higher for the beta-carotene group (P = 0.47); FVC, 17 ml higher for the beta-carotene group (P = 0.36).

"In a chronically undernourished population, maternal repletion with vitamin A at recommended dietary levels before, during, and after pregnancy improved lung function in offspring. This public health benefit was apparent in the preadolescent years," the authors write.

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