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Vitamin A good for infants' lungs

Children whose malnourished mothers took vitamin A during pregnancy have stronger lungs throughout childhood.

Vitamin A good for infants

Children whose malnourished mothers took vitamin A during pregnancy have stronger lungs throughout childhood, with the benefits measurable well past the age of 9 years, according to a new study.

Vitamin A is important in regulating early lung development and alveolar (air sac) formation. Its deficiency during pregnancy could have lasting adverse effects on the lung health of the baby. The researchers tested this hypothesis by examining the long-term effects of supplementation with vitamin A or beta-carotene in women before, during, and after pregnancy on the lung function of their offspring, in a population with chronic vitamin A deficiency. The researchers examined 1658 rural Nepali children 9 to 13 years of age whose mothers had participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, cluster-randomized trial of vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation between 1994 and 1997.

Lung capacity was found to be about 3 percent higher in children whose mothers took vitamin A compared to those whose mothers received a placebo. When mothers were given beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, their children did not score higher on the lung capacity test. The benefits are believed to have come from treatment during pregnancy because all the children received regular vitamin A supplements after birth.

The above findings highlight that Vitamin A supplements during pregnancy can save children from respiratory illnesses.
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