Thrasher Research Fund - Medical research grants to improve the lives of children

Project Details

Early Career

Status: Funded - Closed

Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamin B-12 Supplementation and Breast Milk Status of B-12 in Tanzania

Dongqing (DQ) Wang, PhD, MPH


BACKGROUND: Deficiency of vitamin B-12, an essential micronutrient for the growth and development of infants, is a serious public health challenge in Tanzania. Vitamin B-12 deficiency during infancy may be preventable by improving maternal breast milk status during the first 6 months of life. GAP: The prevalence of breast milk vitamin B-12 deficiency in Tanzania is unknown, and it is unclear how maternal characteristics are associated with B-12 status in breast milk. No study has examined the effectiveness of vitamin B-12 supplementation from early pregnancy throughout lactation on breast milk vitamin B-12 in Tanzania. HYPOTHESIS: We hypothesize that there will be a high prevalence of breast milk vitamin B-12 inadequacy in Tanzania. We also hypothesize that prenatal and postnatal vitamin B-12 supplementation will improve the status of breast milk vitamin B-12. METHODS: We will use data from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of prenatal and postnatal maternal multiple micronutrient supplementation (including 50 μg/day of vitamin B-12) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Breast milk samples were collected at 6 weeks and 6 months postpartum. RESULTS: Pending. IMPACT: The proposed study will be the first to examine the effect of maternal high-dose vitamin B-12 supplementation provided from early pregnancy throughout lactation on breast milk vitamin B-12 status in Tanzania. Findings from this study will have direct and immediate public-health applicability in protecting mothers and infants from vitamin B-12 deficiency in Tanzania and other resource-limited settings. Website Link:

Supervising Institution:
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Wafaie Fawzi

Project Location:
California, Massachusetts

Award Amount: