Serum retinol concentrations, race, and socioeconomic status in of women of childbearing age in the United States

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22 Scopus citations


Background: Vitamin A is an essential nutrient during pregnancy and throughout the lifecycle due to its role in the development of critical organ systems. Because maternal tissue is progressively depleted of vitamin A to supply fetal demands, women who become pregnant while possessing marginal vitamin A reserves are at increased risk of vitamin A inadequacy as pregnancy progresses. Few studies have assessed the relationship between socioeconomic factors and retinol status in women of childbearing age. Methods: We used the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to assess the relationship between serum retinol concentrations and socioeconomic factors in women of childbearing age. Women 14–45 years of age (n = 3170) from NHANES cycles 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 were included. Serum retinol concentrations were divided into categories according to World Health Organization criteria. All statistical procedures accounted for the weighted data and complex design of the NHANES sample. A p-value of < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: The poverty score and race were significantly associated with vitamin A status after adjustment for confounders. Odds of retinol concentrations of <1.05 µmol/L were 1.85 times higher for those of lower socioeconomic status when compared to those of higher status (95% CI: 1.12–3.03, p = 0.02), and 3.1 times higher for non-Hispanic blacks when compared to non-Hispanic whites (95% CI: 1.50–6.41, p = 0.002). Dietary intakes of retinol activity equivalents were significantly lower in groups with higher poverty scores (p = 0.004). Conclusion There appear to be disparities in serum vitamin A levels in women of childbearing age related to income and race in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number508
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 19 2016


  • Childbearing
  • Diet
  • Vitamin A
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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