Assessment of vitamin A (VA) transfer from the mother to the breastfed child, in lactating women from an agricultural and urban area, using stable isotopes
Breast milk intake was assessed using deuterium oxide dilution “dose to the mother” technique, briefly deuterated water is administered to the mother and decay and increase of the isotope is measured in the saliva (FTIR) of the mother and the child, respectively. Additionally, breast milk retinol (BMR) concentration was determined by HPLC and VA deficiency in lactating women was set <1.05 µmol/L. For the first time, both methods are combined and we were able to measure VA intake in the breastfed child from agricultural (n=30) and urban (n=26) areas.
Mean breast milk intake by the infants was 757.9 ± 184.5 mL, and no significant difference was observed between both areas (P=0.067). Mean breast milk VA concentration was 1.09 µmol/L, which was significantly lower in the agricultural region (P=0.028). Vitamin A deficiency was found in 57.1% (n=32) of participant women. By combining both methods we were able to assess the daily intake of vitamin A by the breastfed infants, which showed that those from the agricultural area reached only 49% of their recommendation, vs 66% for those living in the urban region (P=0.054).
VAD is still a public health problem in developing countries. A redirected integration of available methods allowed a more complete and sensitive analysis of the nutritional status of participants, this new approach enables to fight VAD from unexplored angles, especially in vulnerable groups.