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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD006665. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006665.pub2.

Vitamin C for preventing and treating tetanus.

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  • 1University of Helsinki, Department of Public Health, POB 41, Mannerheimintie 172, Helsinki, Finland, FIN-00014.

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Tetanus is a severe infection that can be prevented by vaccination. In developing countries vaccination coverage is not always high and in developed countries cases may still occur, particularly in elderly people owing to their reduced immunoprotection. It has been estimated that there are about one million cases of tetanus per year globally. In animal studies, vitamin C protected against various infections. In a study with rats, vitamin C protected against tetanus toxin.


To assess the prophylactic and therapeutic effect of vitamin C in tetanus.


We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library, 2007, issue 4), MEDLINE (1950 to January 2008), EMBASE (1980 to 2008 Week 03), the Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register (January 2008), the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialised Register (June 2007), and the reference lists of relevant reviews and monographs.


We included controlled trials of vitamin C as a prevention or treatment for tetanus, whether or not placebo controlled, in any language, published or unpublished. Two authors independently made inclusion decisions.


Both review authors independently extracted data from trial reports.


One single trial was eligible for inclusion. This non randomised, controlled, unblinded treatment trial involved 117 tetanus patients and was undertaken in Bangladesh. Vitamin C at a dosage of 1 g/day was administered intravenously alongside conventional treatment. At recruitment, the participants were stratified into two age groups and the results were reported by age. In the children aged 1 to 12 years (n = 62), vitamin C treatment was associated with a 100% reduction in tetanus mortality (95% confidence interval from -100% to -94%). In people aged 13 to 30 years (n = 55), vitamin C treatment was associated with a 45% reduction in tetanus mortality (95% confidence interval from -69% to -5%).


A single, non randomised, poorly reported trial of vitamin C as a treatment for tetanus suggests a considerable reduction in mortality. However, concerns about trial quality mean that this result must be interpreted with caution and vitamin C cannot be recommended as a treatment for tetanus on the basis of this evidence. New trials should be carried out to examine the effect of vitamin C on tetanus treatment.

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