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close this bookHIV in Pregnancy: A Review (UNAIDS, 1999, 67 p.)
close this folderSECTION A : HIV IN PREGNANCY
close this folderAppropriate interventions to reduce mother-to-child transmission
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAntiretroviral therapy
View the documentImmune therapy
View the documentNutritional interventions
View the documentMode of delivery
View the documentVaginal cleansing
View the documentModification of infant feeding practice

Nutritional interventions

Following the finding that mothers with low serum levels of vitamin A were more likely to transmit HIV to their children195, supplementation of vitamin A has been suggested as a preventive treatment. Several randomized controlled trials of vitamin A and other micronutrients are in progress (Table 3). The potential advantages of micronutrient supplementation would be the low price, possible other nutritional and health benefits for the mother and the fact that the intervention could be implemented simply without the need for HIV testing. Vitamin A deficiency has also been associated with increased viral loads in breast milk, and any reduction following supplementation would also be of benefit in breastfeeding women159. Other micronutrients such as Zinc and Selenium have also been suggested as possible preventive agents.

A randomized controlled trial in the United Republic of Tanzania showed that multivitamin supplementation in HIV positive pregnant women decreased the risk of low birth weight by 44%, severe preterm birth (under 34 weeks gestation) by 39% and small size for gestational age at birth by 43%. Vitamin A supplementation had no effect on these variables. The multivitamin supplementation, but not vitamin A, resulted in significant increases in CD4+, CD8 and CD3 counts. The effect on mother-to-child transmission in this study has yet to be determined295. Preliminary reports from other vitamin A intervention trials suggest little benefit on transmission from vitamin A supplementation alone.