The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Avoid vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland compare beta carotene to vitamin A.

    First, the details.

    • The population studied included rural Nepali children 9 to 13 years of age.
    • Theirs mothers had received vitamin A or beta-carotene supplementation between 1994 and 1997 as part of another study.

    And, the results.

    • Of 1894 children who were alive at the end of the original study, 88% were eligible to participate in the follow-up study.
    • Tests of lung function (spirometry) in children whose mothers had received vitamin A had a forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and a forced vital capacity (FVC) that were significantly higher than those of children whose mothers had received placebo.
      • FEV1 (a measure of resistance to air movement out of the lung) was 46 mL higher with vitamin A.
      • FVC measures the amount of air you can exhale with force.
    • Children whose mothers received beta-carotene had FEV1 and FVC values similar to those of children whose mothers taking placebo.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “In a chronically undernourished population, maternal repletion with vitamin A at recommended dietary levels before, during, and after pregnancy improved lung function in offspring.”

    Others have reported benefits to the fetus from vitamin A supplementation during pregnancy.

    And in studies of animals, vitamin A has been shown to upregulate genes necessary for fetal lung growth and increase surfactant production.

    The differences between beta-carotene and vitamin A are discussed here.

    6/14/10 19:48 JR

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