Early vitamin A supplementation may improve scholastic performance, executive function
Antenatal or newborn supplementation with vitamin A does not appear to influence general intelligence or memory and motor functions, a Bangladesh study suggests. Both interventions, however, have been shown to improve scholastic performance and aspects of executive function.
Researchers revisited a cohort of rural Bangladeshi children from two previous double-blind, placebo-controlled cluster-randomized trials at age 8 years between February 2013 and June 2014 to investigate the independent and combined effects of antenatal and newborn supplementation with vitamin A on the cognitive function of children.
Various psychometric assessment tools were utilized to collect data on child care behaviour, schooling, anthropometric measures, cognitive function, and sociodemographic, social and physical conditions.
A total of 11,950 children from the parent trial were identified to be alive, of which 1,803 children balanced by treatment group in a selected contiguous study area were re-enrolled and 1,613 (89 percent) provided consent for evaluations. There were 1,577 (87 percent) children who had a complete cognitive assessment.
Baseline variables collected in the previous trials and factors measured at re-enrollment were highly similar among all groups.
Neither maternal nor newborn supplementation with vitamin A had any impact on intelligence, memory and motor function. Children who received both interventions showed significantly better performance in reading, spelling and math computation compared with placebo, with increased mean scores of 8.0 (95 percent CI, 2.2 to 13.8), 6.8 (1.9 to 11.7) and 4.8 (0.6 to 9.0), respectively.