Effect of maternal antenatal and newborn supplementation with vitamin A on cognitive development of school-aged children in rural Bangladesh: a follow-up of a placebo-controlled, randomized trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jul;106(1):77-87. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.134478. Epub 2017 May 10.


Background: The impact of early vitamin A supplementation on neurodevelopmental function has not been adequately studied. In rural Bangladesh we examined cognitive and motor function and scholastic achievement in a cohort of children who were exposed to vitamin A in utero or at birth.Objective: The aim of this study was to examine independent and combined effects of antenatal and newborn supplementation with vitamin A on the cognitive function of children at 8 y of age.Design: A cohort of rural Bangladeshi children from 2 previous double-blind, placebo-controlled cluster-randomized trials were revisited at age 8 y between February 2013 and June 2014. Data on sociodemographic, social, and physical conditions; schooling; child care behavior; anthropometric measures; and cognitive function were collected with the use of various psychometric assessment tools.Results: Among 11,950 children from the parent trial who were last known to be alive, a subset of 1803 children balanced by treatment group in a selected contiguous study area were re-enrolled and 1613 (89%) provided consent for assessments. Of these, 1577 (87%) children had a complete cognitive evaluation. All groups were highly comparable on baseline variables collected in the previous trials and factors measured at re-enrollment. Overall, there was no impact of either maternal or newborn supplementation with vitamin A on intelligence, memory, and motor function. Compared with placebo, children who received both interventions had significantly better performance in reading, spelling, and math computation, with increased mean (95% CI) scores of 8.0 (2.2, 13.8), 6.8 (1.9, 11.7), and 4.8 (0.6, 9.0), respectively.Conclusions: General intelligence or memory and motor functions were not affected by antenatal or newborn supplementation with vitamin A. Scholastic performance and aspects of executive function improved when both interventions were provided. These trials were registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00198822 and NCT00128557.

Keywords: cognitive function; newborn; prenatal; scholastic performance; vitamin A.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bangladesh
  • Child
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Cognition*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Perinatal Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Rural Population
  • Vitamin A / pharmacology*
  • Vitamins / pharmacology
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin A

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00198822
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00128557