Night blindness during pregnancy and subsequent mortality among women in Nepal: effects of vitamin A and beta-carotene supplementation

Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Sep 15;152(6):542-7. doi: 10.1093/aje/152.6.542.


Night blindness due to vitamin A deficiency is common during pregnancy among women in Nepal. The authors assessed the risk of maternal death during and after a pregnancy with night blindness among women participating in a cluster-randomized, placebo-controlled vitamin A and beta-carotene supplementation trial in Nepal from July 1994 to September 1997. Subjects were 877 women with night blindness and 9,545 women without night blindness during pregnancy. Women were followed from the time they declared that they were pregnant through the end of the study, representing a median follow-up of 90 weeks (interquartile range: 64-121 weeks). Mortality of night-blind women in the placebo group was 3,601 per 100,000 pregnancies. In comparison, the relative risk of dying among nonnight-blind women in the placebo group was 0.26 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.13, 0.55), and the relative risk among women with or without night blindness in the vitamin A/beta-carotene group was 0.32 (95% CI: 0.10, 0.91) and 0.18 (95% CI: 0.09, 0.36), respectively. Night-blind women were five times (95% CI: 2.20, 10.58) more likely to die from infections than were women who were not night blind. These findings show that night blindness during pregnancy is a risk factor of both short- and long-term mortality among women. Vitamin A/beta-carotene supplementation ameliorates this risk to a large extent.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Maternal Mortality
  • Middle Aged
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Night Blindness / drug therapy*
  • Night Blindness / etiology
  • Night Blindness / mortality*
  • Placebos
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Complications / mortality*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / mortality
  • beta Carotene / therapeutic use*


  • Placebos
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin A