Hypervitaminosis a in early human pregnancy and malformations of the central nervous system

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1978;57(3):289-91. doi: 10.3109/00016347809154901.


A case of malformations of the fetal central nervous system following hypervitaminosis A in early pregnancy is reported. The mother was treated with 150 000 IU vitamin A daily during gestation days 19 to 40. Determination of urinary oestriol carried out in the 42nd week of pregnancy revealed a very low excretion (4.2-6.6) mumol/24 h). Induced delivery resulted in a microcephalic child who died after 18 min. The child had multiple malformations of the central nervous system and very small adrenal glands (1.5 g; normal 11 +/- 4 g). The very low urinary oestriol excretion is well explained by the hypoplastic adrenals, which in turn can be related to insufficient ACTH stimulation, a condition similar to anencephaly. The malformations shown in the present case are considered to be related to the high doses of vitamin A given to the mother, and the authors wish to warn against uncritical use of high doses of vitamin A in whomen of childbearing age.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / chemically induced
  • Adrenal Glands / abnormalities
  • Adult
  • Estriol / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Microcephaly / chemically induced*
  • Placenta / enzymology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Sulfatases / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / adverse effects*


  • Vitamin A
  • Sulfatases
  • Estriol