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Bradley S. Henriksen, Gary Chan, Robert O. Hoffman, Mohsen Sharifzadeh, Igor V. Ermakov, Werner Gellermann, Paul S. Bernstein; Interrelationships Between Maternal Carotenoid Status and Newborn Infant Macular Pigment Optical Density and Carotenoid Status. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(8):5568-5578. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.13-12331.
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Deposition of the macular pigment carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in the human retina occurs early in life. In this study, we examined the interrelationships of maternal carotenoid status and newborn infant macular pigment levels and systemic carotenoid status. As a secondary measure, we also evaluated the effects of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) on carotenoid status in term newborn infants.
We measured mother and infant skin carotenoids using resonance Raman spectroscopy (RRS), serum carotenoids by HPLC, and mother breast milk carotenoids by HPLC. We measured infant macular pigment levels using noninvasive blue light reflectometry.
We enrolled 30 healthy term infants, their mothers, and 10 IUGR infants and their mothers. A subset of 16 infants was imaged for macular pigment optical density (MPOD). Infant serum zeaxanthin levels correlated with MPOD (r = 0.68, P = 0.007). Mother serum zeaxanthin levels correlated with infant MPOD (r = 0.59, P = 0.032). Infant and mother serum lutein did not correlate with MPOD. Mother–infant correlations were found for total serum carotenoids (r = 0.42, P = 0.020) and skin carotenoids (r = 0.48, P = 0.001). No difference was seen between IUGR infants and controls in total serum or skin carotenoids. Mothers of IUGR infants had lower total serum carotenoids (P = 0.019) and breast milk carotenoids than controls (P = 0.006).
Our findings suggest that maternal zeaxanthin status may play a more important role than lutein status in macular pigment deposition in utero. Controlled trials are needed to determine whether maternal zeaxanthin prenatal supplementation can raise infant macular pigment levels and/or improve ocular function.
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