Background This study was aimed to determine the prevalence vitamin A (VA) and E (VE) deficiencies in very low birth weight (VLBW) Tunisian infants and to seek for their relationship with obstetrical complications.
Methods We included 173 VLBW infants (birth weight <1500 g), admitted in Neonatology service (Tunis, Tunisia). Plasma vitamin A and E were assessed by HPLC. Moderate and severe vitamin deficiencies were considered for plasma VA<20 μg/dL and <10 μg/dL, and plasma VE <300 μg/dL and <100 μg/dL, respectively.
Results A moderate deficit was observed in 75.7% and 73.2% of infants for VA and VE, respectively. The prevalence of severe deficiency was 26.7% for VA and 15.4% for VE. Vitamin deficiencies were more frequent in preterm infants with intra-uterine growth retardation [88.3% vs. 69%; OR (95% CI), 3.40 (1.41–8.22); p = 0.005] for moderate VA deficiency, [40% vs. 16.8%; 3.30 (1.62–6.74); p = 0.001] for severe VA deficiency, and [23.3% vs. 8.0%; 3.52 (1.42–8.71); p = 0.005] for severe VE deficiency. A significant association was observed between maternal gestational hypertension and severe VA deficiency [31.1% vs. 16.7%; 2.26 (1.07–4.75); p = 0.03] and severe VE deficiency [17.8% vs. 7.7%; 2.60 (1.01–7.00); p = 0.05]. No significant association was observed between VA and VE deficiencies and twin pregnancy, maternal gestational diabetes, foetal-maternal infection and respiratory distress.
Conclusion Vitamins A and E deficiency were highly frequent in VLBW Tunisian infants. These deficiencies were associated with maternal gestational hypertension and foetal uterine growth retardation and may increase the risk of infant morbidity and mortality.