Tanzania: Infants Benefit When HIV-Positive Moms Take a Multivitamin
February 15, 2006
HIV-positive pregnant women in Tanzania who took multivitamins reduced the chances that their infants would have developmental delays, according to new research. The findings support current recommendations to give multivitamin supplements and antiretroviral therapy to HIV-1-infected pregnant women in developing countries, said Dr. Nuala McGrath of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues.
Supplementation has already been associated with delays in HIV progression as well as decreased complications such as low birth weight, preterm birth and death. In the current study, researchers assessed the relation between maternal multivitamin use and mental and motor development in 327 children born to HIV-positive mothers.
In the study, the pregnant women received either a vitamin A supplement; a multivitamin containing B1, B2, B6, niacin, B12, C, E and folic acid; both supplements; or a placebo. Treatment lasted through the pregnancy and for 18 months after delivery.
The team found that the multivitamin regimen excluding vitamin A was associated with positive motor scores, as assessed by a validated index. According to the authors, the average 2.6-point increase in motor index scores would translate to a 35 percent decrease in the number of babies who would need greater educational resources, medical care and other social services.
While the multivitamin regimen was also associated with a decreased risk of motor developmental delays (relative risk 0.4), its association with mental scores was insignificant. Vitamin A was neither associated with changes in mental/motor function nor did its inclusion with a multivitamin improve development scores.
The full report, "Effect of Maternal Multivitamin Supplementation on the Mental and Psychomotor Development of Children Who Are Born to HIV-1-Infected Mothers in Tanzania," was published in the journal Pediatrics (2006;117(2):e216-e225).
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.