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Open Access Research article

Vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy of HIV infected and non-infected women in tropical settings of Northwest Ethiopia

Andargachew Mulu12*, Afework Kassu1, Kahsay Huruy3, Birhanemeskel Tegene3, Gashaw Yitayaw3, Masayo Nakamori4, Nguyen Van Nhien5, Assegedech Bekele6, Yared Wondimhun7, Shigeru Yamamoto8 and Fusao Ota9

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, P. O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Institute of Virology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 30, 04103, Leipzig, Germany

3 Department of Medical Laboratory Technology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar P. O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

4 Division of Nutrition and Food Science, Ochanomizu University, Tokyo 112-8610, Japan

5 Department of Science and Network Direction, National Institute for Food Control, 15A Phan Huy Chu, Hanoi, Vietnam

6 Department of Human Anatomy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, P.O. Box 196, Gondar, Ethiopia

7 Department of Medicine, Howard University Hospital, Howard University

8 International Nutrition, Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Graduate School of Human Life Sciences, Jumonji University, 2-1-28 Sugasawa, Niiza-City, Saitama 352-8510, Japan

9 Department of Preventive Environment and Nutrition, Institute of Health Biosciences, The University of Tokushima, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:569  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-569

Published: 15 July 2011

Abstract

Background

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is known to be a major public health problem among women of reproductive age in South East Asia and Africa. In Ethiopia, there are no studies conducted on serum vitamin A status of HIV-infected pregnant women. Therefore, the present study was aimed at determining the level of serum vitamin A and VAD among pregnant women with and without HIV infection in tropical settings of Northwest Ethiopia.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, blood samples were collected from 423 pregnant women and from 55 healthy volunteers who visited the University of Gondar Hospital. Serum concentration of vitamin A was measured by high performance liquid chromatography.

Results

After controlling for total serum protein, albumin and demographic variables, the mean ± SD serum vitamin A in HIV seropositive pregnant women (0.96 ± 0.42 μmol/L) was significantly lower than that in pregnant women without HIV infection (1.10 ± 0.45 μmol/L, P < 0.05). Likewise, the level of serum vitamin A in HIV seropositive non-pregnant women (0.74 ± 0.39) was significantly lower than that in HIV negative non-pregnant women (1.18 ± 0.59 μmol/L, P < 0.004). VAD (serum retinol < 0.7 μmol/L) was observed in 18.4% and 17.7% of HIV infected and uninfected pregnant women, respectively. Forty six percent of non-pregnant women with HIV infection had VAD while only 28% controls were deficient for vitamin A (P = 0.002).

Conclusion

The present study shows that VAD is a major public health problem among pregnant women in the tropical settings of Northwest Ethiopia. Considering the possible implications of VAD during pregnancy, we recommend multivitamin (which has a lower level of vitamin A) supplementation in the care and management of pregnant women with or without HIV infection.

Keywords:
Vitamin A deficiencies; pregnancy; HIV infection; Ethiopia