Research: FUJITA and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 270

Abstract

FUJITA and COLLEAGUES,1. Department of Anthropology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824; 2. School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48109; 3. Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, 98195 conducted a secondary analysis of data collected among lactating mothers in Vitamin A (VA) deficiency VAD endemic northern Kenya (n = 171), examining nutritional, inflammatory, and ecological factors that might associate with maternal retinol allocation.

Background

Vitamin A (VA) is an essential micronutrient required for a range of biological functions throughout life. VA deficiency (VAD) claims an estimated 1 million preschool children's lives annually. Human milk is enriched with VA (retinol) from the maternal blood, which originates from the hepatic reserve and dietary intake. Secreting retinol into milk will benefit the nursing infant through breast milk, but retaining retinol is also important for the maternal health. Previous studies found that the public health intervention of high-dose VA supplementation to lactating mothers did not significantly lower child mortality. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently acknowledged that our understanding about the principle of VA allocation within the maternal system and the secretion into milk is too incomplete to devise an effective intervention.

Methodology

We present a secondary analysis of data collected among lactating mothers in VAD endemic northern Kenya (n = 171), examining nutritional, inflammatory, and ecological factors that might associate with maternal retinol allocation. Regression models were applied using the outcome milk-retinol allocation index: milk retinol/(milk retinol + serum retinol).

Results

Ten percent of the sample was identified as VAD. The average milk retinol concentration was 0.1 μmo/L, grossly below what is considered minimally necessary for an infant (1 μmol/L). VAD mothers and mothers with inflammation did not seem to compromise their milk retinol even though their serum retinol was lower than non-VAD and non-inflammation mothers. Breast milk fat concentration positively correlated with milk retinol but not with serum retinol.

Conclusion

This exploratory study contributes toward an understanding of maternal retinol allocation.

References

Fujita M1, Lo YJ2, Brindle E3. Nutritional, inflammatory, and ecological correlates of maternal retinol allocation to breast milk in agro-pastoral Ariaal communities of northern Kenya. Am J Hum Biol. 29(4). Jul 8 2017. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22961. Epub Jan 17 2017.

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