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BMJ. Aug 30, 1997; 315(7107): 505–510.
PMCID: PMC2127384

Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of efficacy of vitamin A treatment in non-measles childhood pneumonia.


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the impact on clinical recovery and severity of the addition of large doses of vitamin A to the standard treatment for childhood pneumonia. DESIGN: A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial. SETTING: Study children were recruited at a public hospital in Recife, north east Brazil, an area of marginal vitamin A deficiency. SUBJECTS: 472 children aged 6 to 59 months with clinical diagnosis of pneumonia. INTERVENTIONS: 200,000 IU (infants) or 400,000 IU (1-4 year olds) of vitamin A in oil or similar capsules of placebo divided into two daily oral doses, in addition to the standard treatment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Duration of the episode and incidence of adverse outcomes. RESULTS: The groups were similar with respect to overall duration of pneumonia and incidence of adverse outcomes. Children who received vitamin A, however, were less likely to have fever by day 3 (P = 0.008) and were 29% less likely to fail to respond to the first line antibiotic (P = 0.054). CONCLUSION: There was little evidence for an effect of vitamin A treatment on the immediate outcome of the pneumonia episode.

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