Print this page    •   Back to Web version of article

Medical News
Low Maternal Vitamin D Increases the Risk of HIV Transmission to Offspring

September 23, 2009

A new study of HIV-positive pregnant women finds that low maternal vitamin D levels are linked with a higher risk of viral transmission and an increase in infant mortality.

In Tanzania, 884 HIV-positive pregnant women participating in a trial of vitamin supplementation were monitored to assess pregnancy outcomes and child mortality. Vitamin D levels below 32 ng/ml were considered to be low.

The HIV infection rates for babies born to mothers with low levels of vitamin D were 10.7 percent at birth, 21.7 percent at six weeks and 35.2 percent at two years. For participants with adequate levels of vitamin D, the infant infection rates were 6.5 percent at birth, 16.3 percent at six weeks and 27 percent at two years. Multivariate analyses showed low maternal vitamin D levels were linked with a 50 percent higher risk of HIV transmission at six weeks, a 200 percent higher risk during breastfeeding for babies who were not infected at six weeks, and a 46 percent higher risk overall.

In addition, "Children born to women with a low vitamin D level had a 61 percent higher risk of dying during follow-up (95 percent confidence interval, 25 percent-107 percent)," the researchers wrote.

"If found to be efficacious in randomized trials, vitamin D supplementation could prove to be an inexpensive methods of reducing the burden of HIV infection and death among children, particularly in resource-limited settings," the authors concluded.

The report, "Perinatal Outcomes, Including Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, and Child Mortality and Their Association with Maternal Vitamin D Status in Tanzania," was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2009;200:1022-1030).

Back to other news for September 2009

Excerpted from:
Reuters Health Medical News

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. You can find this article online by typing this address into your Web browser:

General Disclaimer: is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.