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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Sep;90(3):629-39. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27477. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

Does vitamin A supplementation interact with routine vaccinations? An analysis of the Ghana Vitamin A Supplementation Trial.

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  • 1Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.



The World Health Organization recommends vitamin A supplementation (VAS) at vaccination contacts after 6 mo of age to reduce mortality. However, it is unknown whether the effect of VAS is independent of vaccinations. One of the original VAS trials from Ghana had collected vaccination information.


We reanalyzed the data to explore the hypothesis that VAS reduces mortality in children who had bacille Calmette-Guérin or measles vaccine as their most recent vaccine but increased mortality when diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTP) was the most recent vaccine. On the basis of previous studies, we expected the effects to be strongest in girls.


At enrollment, children aged 6-90 mo were randomly assigned to receive VAS or placebo every 4 mo for 2 y. Vaccination status was assessed at enrollment and after 1 and 2 y by reviewing the children's health cards. Lack of a health card was presumed to mean that the child had not been vaccinated.


VAS had a beneficial effect only in children with no record of vaccination at enrollment (n = 5066); the mortality rate ratio (MRR) was 0.64 (95% CI: 0.47, 0.88) compared with 0.95 (95% CI: 0.72, 1.26) in children with one or more vaccinations (n = 6656). Among vaccinated children, the effect of VAS differed between boys (MRR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.51, 1.08) and girls (MRR: 1.18; 95% CI: 0.84, 1.67) (P = 0.046 for interaction). VAS had a negative effect in measles-vaccinated girls who were missing one or more doses of DTP at enrollment, a group who often received DTP during follow-up (MRR: 2.60; 95% CI: 1.41, 4.80).


The effect of VAS differed by vaccination status. This is potentially problematic because VAS is provided at vaccination contacts.

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