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J Trop Pediatr. 2002 Apr;48(2):72-7.

Vitamin A for preventing secondary infections in children with measles--a systematic review.

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National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.


The objective of the present study was to determine whether vitamin A prevents pneumonia, diarrhoea and other infections in children with measles. A meta-analysis was carried out of randomized controlled trials identified through a systematic search of the medical literature for studies that used vitamin A to treat measles. A total of 492 children, aged from 6 months to 13 years, were supplemented with vitamin A, and 536 children were given placebo in six trials, five of which were conducted in hospitals and one in a community setting. The main outcome measures were: incidence of pneumonia, diarrhoea, croup, and otitis media; and duration of pneumonia, diarrhoea, fever and hospitalization. There was no significant reduction in the incidence of pneumonia or diarrhoea but there was a 47 per cent reduction in the incidence of croup (RR = 0.53; 95 per cent CI = 0.29-0.89) in children who were treated with 200 000 IU of vitamin A on 2 consecutive days. Only one study reported a 74 per cent reduction in the incidence of otitis media (RR = 0.26 95 per cent CI = 0.05-0.92). There was a statistically significant decrease in the duration of diarrhoea, pneumonia, hospital stay and fever in individual studies. It was concluded that vitamin A does have a beneficial effect on morbidity associated with measles and should be used as a treatment for hospitalized measles cases.

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