Multivitamin Supplements Might Help Prevent Motor Development Delays in Infants Born to HIV-1-Positive Women
HIV-1-positive women in developing countries can reduce the risk of motor developmental delays in their infants by taking multivitamin supplements containing vitamins B, C and E during pregnancy, according to a study published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, Reuters Health reports. Nuala McGrath of the Harvard School of Public Health and colleagues gave a population of HIV-1-positive, pregnant women in Tanzania daily doses of either vitamin A alone, a multivitamin regimen of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, folic acid and niacin, a combination of both supplements or a placebo to determine the vitamins' effect on the mental and motor development of 327 infants born to the HIV-1-positive women during the study. The women took the doses throughout their pregnancies and 18 months after delivery. The study finds that a multivitamin supplement containing only vitamins B, C and E positively affected the infants' scores on a motor development index. An increase of 2.6 points in the average motor index of a population signifies a 35% decrease in the number of people who need additional educational resources, medical care and other social support, according to the study. Vitamin A affected neither mental function nor motor function and combining it with the multivitamin supplement did not improve development scores, the study finds. The study also finds that multivitamin supplements significantly reduced the risk of motor developmental delays but did not significantly affect mental scores. The findings support current recommendations to give multivitamin supplements to pregnant women with HIV-1. Multivitamin supplements already are associated with delays in HIV progression and reduced risk of complications such as low birthweight, preterm birth and fetal death (Reuters Health, 2/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.