Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Corrine K. Hanson


OBJECTIVE: Little is known about the vitamin A status in mothers and infants at birth in the United States. The main objective of this study is to determine associations between maternal and infant serum retinol, provitamin A carotenoids, and non-provitamin A carotenoids. The secondary aim is to explore the relationship between maternal intake and maternal and infant serum levels of vitamin A compounds.

METHODS: This was a prospective cohort of 34 mothers and their infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Maternal and cord blood samples were collected at delivery. Serum retinol, lutein + zeaxanthin, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, α-carotene, and β-carotene concentrations were measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) were obtained to assess maternal dietary vitamin A intake. Descriptive statistics and Spearman correlation coefficients were calculated. P-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

RESULTS: The mean birth weight was 2738.0 ± 835.7 gm and mean gestational age was 36.7 ± 3.4 weeks. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was present in 71.9% of infants and 12.9% of mothers. Significant positive correlations were found between maternal-infant serum lutein + zeaxanthin (r=0.50, p=0.004), β-cryptoxanthin (r=0.83, p=<0.001), trans-lycopene (r=0.68, p=<0.001), cis-lycopene (r=0.52, p=0.003), total lycopene (r=0.63, p=<0.001), α-carotene (r=0.67, p=<0.001), trans-β-carotene (r=0.74, p=<0.001), cis-β-carotene (r=0.44, p=0.013), total-β-carotene (r=0.71, p=<0.001), and retinol (r=0.42, p=0.018).

CONCLUSION: VAD is a significant health problem in infants in the NICU. Infant vitamin A status is correlated with maternal levels and may be influenced by maternal dietary intake throughout pregnancy.