Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy and lactation is still common in Bangladesh. We evaluated the effect of lipid-based nutrient supplements for pregnant and lactating women (LNS-PL) on vitamin A status.
We conducted a cluster-randomized effectiveness trial (the Rang-Din Nutrition Study) in which women received iron and folic acid (IFA; 60 mg iron + 400 µg folic acid) or LNS-PL (20 g/d, 118 kcal) containing essential fatty acids and 22 vitamins and minerals (including 800 µg of vitamin A). LNS-PL was consumed daily during pregnancy and 6 mo postpartum; IFA was consumed daily during pregnancy and on every alternate day during the first 3 mo postpartum. Low vitamin A status was defined as RBP <1.17 µmol/L.
We analyzed serum samples of 1125, 875, and 1040 women at baseline (~13 wk gestation), 36 wk gestation and 6 mo postpartum, respectively. Mean log RBP did not differ significantly between groups at baseline and at 36 wk gestation, but was higher in the LNS-PL group at 6 mo postpartum (p = 0.0074). The prevalence of low vitamin A status was 30.8% and 28.0% at baseline, 27.5% and 23.4% at 36 wk and 24.1% and 20.7% at 6 mo postpartum in the IFA and LNS-PL groups, respectively.
About one-fourth of women in this area of rural Bangladesh had low vitamin A status in pregnancy and the first 6 mo postpartum. LNS-PL supplementation increased mean RBP at 6 mo postpartum but not at 36 wk gestation.