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Study Probes Link Between Newborn Health And Vitamin A

Update Date: Oct 31, 2014 02:40 PM EDT

Up until now, the impact vitamin A has on newborns was virtually unknown, but a couple of studies may provide framework for future investigations of the vitamin and neonatal health. 

Researchers supplemented newborn rats with vitamin A, and found that vitamin A distribution within the body increases suddenly but temporarily, with a significant amount found in tissues other than the liver. In adults, vitamin A is usually found in the liver. 

"The World Health Organization recommends periodic vitamin A supplements to children living in developing countries," said A. Catharine Ross, professor of nutritional sciences and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, in the press release. "Giving large doses of vitamin A to children 6 months to 5 years old has shown to decrease mortality by 23 percent. However, studies in children under 6 months have been inconclusive."

The study also noted that the supplemented rats had an increased uptake of chylomicron retinyl ester in the lungs, intestines and remaining tissue, including a decrease in retinol turnover out of the liver, compared to the unsupplemented rats, the press release added.

 "This research provides us with a blueprint for humans, giving us a baseline set of data, in order to let us make comparisons in the future," said Ross. "By being able to better understand infants' nutritional needs, evidence-based dietary intake recommendations could be made and infant mortality could potentially be reduced, particularly in developing countries."

The study has been published in the Journal of Lipid Research. 

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