Provitamin A (PVA) maize: Effect on dark adaptation and breast milk retinol in rural Zambia

Abstract Number Theme Presentation Type Cover Approved
Oral Not Approved


Abstract Content


In separate randomized trials, we assessed whether regular consumption of PVAmaize would increase 1) pupillary responsiveness (PR), a functional indicator of VA status, in children, and 2) breast milk retinol concentration (BMRC) in lactating women.


Children (4-8 y; n=542) received either PVA-maize or white-maize (2 meals/d, 6 d/wk for 6 m). PR, an objective measure of dark adaptation, was assessed pre- and post-intervention using a portable dark adaptometer. Lactating women (18-35 y; n=149) received either PVAmaize (600 µg retinol equivalents (RE)/d) plus placebo, white-maize plus retinyl-palmitate (600 µg RE/d), or white-maize plus placebo, (2 meals/d, 6 d/wk for 3 wk). BMRC was measured pre- and post-intervention.


Mean (± SD) PR was significantly poorer at baseline in the PVA-maize vs white-maize group (16.1% ± 6.6 vs 18.1% ± 6.4; p=0.02), but did not differ at follow-up (17.6% ± 6.5 vs 18.3% ± 6.5; p=0.99). PR increased [2.2% (95% CI: 0.1, 4.3) vs 0.2% (95% CI: -1.1, 1.5) in the PVA-maize vs white-maize group; p=0.01] among children with baseline serum retinol <1.05 μmol/L. Mean baseline BMRC was 0.95 µmol/L (95% CI: 0.86, 1.05); 56% of women had BMRC <1.05 μmol/L.  Endline BMRC did not differ by group (p=0.13); the proportion of women with low milk retinol (<28 nmol/g fat) was 51.1%, 43.8%, and 26.1% in the white-maize, PVA-maize, and retinylpalmitate groups, respectively (p for trend=0.03).


Regular consumption of PVA-maize increased PR among children with marginal VA status, and tended to reduce the risk of low BMRC among women.

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