Breast-feeding status alters the effect of vitamin A treatment during acute diarrhea in children

Nita Bhandari, Rajiv Bahl, Sunil Sazawal, Maharaj K. Bhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Vitamin A administration in children reduces the incidence of severe diarrhea during the subsequent few months. We therefore examined the effect of treatment with vitamin A during acute diarrhea on the episode duration and severity. In a double-blind controlled field trial, 900 children 1 to 5 y of age with acute diarrhea of ≤ 7 d duration were randomly assigned to receive vitamin A (60 mg) or a placebo. Children were followed up at home every alternate day until they recovered from the diarrheal episode. In all study children, those treated with vitamin A had a significantly lower risk of persistent diarrhea [odds ratio (OR) 0.30, 95% confidence interval (Cl) 0.07- 0.97], but there was no effect on the mean diarrheal duration or the mean stool frequency. In the subgroup of children who were not breast-fed, the mean diarrheal duration [ratio of geometric means (GM) 0.84, 95% Cl 0.72- 0.97], mean number of stools passed after the intervention (ratio of GM 0.73, 95% Cl 0.56-0.95), the proportion of episodes lasting ≤14 d (P = 0.002) and the percentage of children who passed watery stools on any study day (OR 0.40, 95% Cl 0.21-0.77) were significantly lower in those treated with vitamin A. We conclude that administration of vitamin A during acute diarrhea may reduce the severity of the episode and the risk of persistent diarrhea in non-breast-fed children. Similar benefit was not seen in breast-fed children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-63
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • acute diarrhea
  • breast-feeding
  • children
  • severity
  • vitamin A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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