Background: An adequate supply of vitamin A during pregnancy and breastfeeding plays an important role for development of foetus and neonate, especially in lung development and function.
Aim of the study: Aim of this pilot study was to analyze vitamin A and beta-carotene status and to investigate the contribution of nutrition to the vitamin A and beta-carotene supply in mother-infant pairs of gemini or births within short birth intervals.
Methods: Twenty-nine volunteers aged between 21 and 36 years were evaluated for 48 h after delivery. During this time frame a food frequency protocol considering 3 months retrospective was obtained from all participants. In order to establish overall supply retinol and beta-carotene levels were determined in maternal plasma, cord blood and colostrum via HPLC analysis.
Results: Regardless of the high to moderate socio-economic background, 27.6% of participants showed plasma retinol levels below 1.4 micromol/l which can be taken as borderline deficiency. In addition, 46.4% showed retinol intake <66% of RDA and 50.0% did not consume liver at all although liver contributes as a main source for preformed retinol. Despite high total carotenoid intake of 6.9 +/- 3.6 mg/d, 20.7% of mothers showed plasma levels <0.5 micromol/l beta-carotene. Retinol and beta-carotene levels were highly significantly correlated between maternal plasma versus cord blood and colostrum. In addition, significantly lower levels were found in cord blood (31.2 +/- 13.0% (retinol), 4.1 +/- 1.4% (beta-carotene) compared with maternal plasma.
Conclusions: Despite the fact that vitamin A and beta-carotene rich food is generally available, risk groups for low vitamin A supply exist in the western world.