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close this bookScurvy and its Prevention and Control in Major Emergencies (WHO; 1999; 70 pages)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentScurvy: definition
open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
close this folderScurvy
close this folderSigns and symptoms
View the documentClassic scurvy
View the documentExperimental scurvy
View the documentMild vitamin C deficiency
View the documentScurvy in pregnant and lactating women and infants
View the documentDiagnosis of scurvy
open this folder and view contentsHistory of scurvy
open this folder and view contentsVitamin C
open this folder and view contentsRecommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
open this folder and view contentsSources of vitamin C
open this folder and view contentsStrategies to prevent scurvy in large refugee populations
View the documentCosts
open this folder and view contentsConclusions and recommendations
View the documentReferences
View the documentAnnex 1
View the documentAnnex 2
View the documentAnnex 3
View the documentBack Cover

Scurvy in pregnant and lactating women and infants

Pregnant women with low vitamin C intakes are not known to give birth to a scorbutic infants. Studies of breast-feeding women also indicate not only the freedom from scurvy in their infants, but also a larger amount of vitamin C in their milk than the women themselves consume daily. Secretion into milk seems to have high priority in maternal vitamin C economy; concentrations up to 48 times higher than in maternal plasma have been found in breast milk (Salmenpera, 1984). Infants had plasma concentrations 6-12 times higher than corresponding maternal concentrations. There is an obvious adaptive preventive effect against vitamin C deficiency even among infants whose mothers' nutrition is marginal (Salmenpera, 1984). No symptoms of scurvy have been known to appear in infants breast-fed by malnourished mothers with very low concentrations of vitamin C in their milk (Deodhar et al., 1964).

One study showed that the mean infant/maternal plasma concentration ratio was 2 during delivery and appeared to be similar or higher during lactation (Salmenpera, 1984). Surprisingly, infants' plasma concentration continued to rise despite the decreasing concentration of vitamin C in milk. This maintenance of high plasma concentration in infancy suggests that a high concentration is necessary during infant growth. The fetal brain is reported to contain a concentration of vitamin C several times higher than the adult brain (Adlard et al., 1974). A study undertaken by Rajalakshmi et al. (1965) showed that pregnant women in India who were ingesting less than 10 mg of vitamin C per day were in fact secreting 15-30 mg of the vitamin in their milk while showing no clinical signs of scurvy. These findings suggest that the human breast and placenta might be able to synthesize some vitamin C (Hodges, 1980).

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