Mental and psychomotor development in Indonesian infants of mothers supplemented with vitamin A in addition to iron during pregnancy

Br J Nutr. 2004 Feb;91(2):279-86. doi: 10.1079/BJN20031043.


Maternal nutrition is important for fetal development, but its impact on the functional outcome of infants is still unclear. The present study investigated the effects of vitamin A and Fe supplementation during gestation on infant mental and psychomotor development. Mothers of infants from five villages in Indonesia were randomly assigned to supervised, double-blind supplementation once per week from approximately 18 weeks of pregnancy until delivery. Supplementation comprised 120 mg Fe+500 microg folic acid with (n 94) or without (n 94) 4800 microg retinol in the form of retinyl acetate. Mothers of infants who participated in the national Fe+folic acid supplementation programme, but whose intake of supplements was not supervised, were recruited from four other villages (n 88). The mental and psychomotor development of infants was assessed, either at 6 or 12 months of age, using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID). We found no impact of vitamin A supplementation on mental or psychomotor development of infants. In addition, infants whose mothers had received weekly Fe supplementation had similar mental and psychomotor indices as those whose mothers had participated in the governmental Fe supplementation programme. The study population was moderately Fe and vitamin A deficient. The size of the treatment groups was large enough to detect a mean difference of 10 points on the BSID, which is less than 1 sd (15 points) of the average performance of an infant on the BSID. In conclusion, the present study did not find an impact of weekly supplementation of 4800 RE vitamin A in addition to Fe during gestation on functional development of Indonesian infants. However, smaller improvements in development may be seen if studied in a larger and/or more deficient population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Child Development*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron / therapeutic use*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Mental Processes*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin A
  • Iron