OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that high-dose vitamin A supplements will enhance recovery of children hospitalized for the treatment of community-acquired pneumonia. DESIGN: We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose vitamin A supplements among children 3 months to 10 years of age (N = 95) admitted to hospital with community-acquired pneumonia in Lima, Peru. Children </=1 year of age received 100 000 IU of water-miscible vitamin A on admission to the hospital and an additional 50 000 IU the next day. Children >1 year of age received 200 000 IU on admission and 100 000 IU the next day. RESULTS: Children receiving vitamin A (n = 48) had lower blood oxygen saturation (the mean difference on day 3 in hospital was 1.1%), higher prevalence rates of retractions (37% in the vitamin A group vs 15% in the placebo group on day 3), auscultatory evidence of consolidation (28% in the vitamin A group vs 17% in the placebo group on day 3), and were more likely to require supplemental oxygen (21% in the vitamin A group vs 8% in the placebo group on day 3) than children in the placebo group (n = 47). Adjustment for baseline severity of disease and nutritional status did not alter the association of vitamin A with increased clinical severity, although the difference in blood oxygen saturation was no longer statistically significant. No differences were seen in duration of hospitalization or in chest x-ray changes 14 days after admission. No deaths occurred, and toxicity of vitamin A was not seen. CONCLUSIONS: This study indicates that high-dose vitamin A supplements cause modest adverse effects in children recovering from pneumonia and should not be used therapeutically in such patients unless there is clinical evidence of vitamin A deficiency or concurrent measles infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health