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Maternal vitamin A deficiency and neonatal microphthalmia: complications of biliopancreatic diversion?

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Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) for morbid obesity carries a serious risk of nutritional deficiencies that might impair embryogenesis. Consequently, attention should be given to the potential of risk to the fetus of BPD in women of childbearing age. We present the case of a pregnant woman who had undergone BPD 8 years previously, with documented vitamin A deficiency, who gave birth to a child with bilateral microphthalmia. Infectious and genetic causes of microphthalmia were excluded. A search of the literature revealed that vitamin A deficiency may cause a disruption of ocular development. We conclude that nutritional deficiencies may cause a spectrum of fetal malformations. As the effect of BPD relies on malabsorption, fetal risk should be considered before BPD is offered to morbid obese women of childbearing age.

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Correspondence to Koenraad Jan Smets.

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Smets, K.J., Barlow, T. & Vanhaesebrouck, P. Maternal vitamin A deficiency and neonatal microphthalmia: complications of biliopancreatic diversion?. Eur J Pediatr 165, 502–504 (2006).

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