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Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;82(5):1090-6.

Effects of moderate doses of vitamin A as an adjunct to the treatment of pneumonia in underweight and normal-weight children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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  • 1Corporación Ecuatoriana de Biotecnología, Quito, Ecuador.



Randomized controlled trials have shown inconsistent responses of childhood pneumonia to the use of vitamin A as an adjunct to the standard treatment of pneumonia.


We evaluated the effect of a moderate dose of vitamin A as an adjunct to standard antimicrobial treatment on the duration of respiratory signs in children with pneumonia.


Children, aged 2-59 mo, with pneumonia and weight-for-age <50th percentile who had been admitted to the Baca Ortíz Children's Hospital in Quito, Ecuador, were randomly assigned to receive 50,000 IU (aged 2-12 mo) or 100,000 IU (aged >12-59 mo) vitamin A or a placebo.


Of the 287 children enrolled, 145 received vitamin A and 142 received placebo. No overall differences were observed between the 2 groups in the duration of signs of pneumonia. Multiple linear regression showed a significant interaction between basal serum retinol concentration and vitamin A group for the time (in h) to remission of respiratory signs (beta = -3.57, SE = 1.09, P = 0.001). Duration of clinical signs was less in children with basal serum retinol concentrations >200 microg/L who received vitamin A supplements than in children with similar concentrations who received placebo (69.9 +/- 49.9 h compared with 131.3 +/- 143.9 h; P = 0.049).


Overall, we found no effect of a moderate dose of vitamin A supplementation on the duration of uncomplicated pneumonia in underweight or normal-weight children aged <5 y. However, a beneficial effect was seen in children with high basal serum retinol concentrations.

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