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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Jan 23;(1):CD006090. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006090.pub2.

Vitamin A for preventing acute lower respiratory tract infections in children up to seven years of age.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Vitamin A supplements are effective for preventing diarrhoea. There are theoretical reasons it might also be effective for acute lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), also very common in children, especially in low income countries.

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the effectiveness and safety of vitamin A for preventing acute LRTIs in children up to seven years of age.

SEARCH STRATEGY:

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2007, Issue 2); MEDLINE (1966 to July 2007); EMBASE (1974 to July 2007); and the Chinese Biomedicine Database (CBM) (1976 to July 2007).

SELECTION CRITERIA:

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that assessed the effectiveness of vitamin A in the prevention of acute LRTI in children up to seven years of age.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:

The review authors independently extracted data and assessed trial quality. Study authors were contacted for additional information.

MAIN RESULTS:

Most studies found no significant effect of vitamin A on the incidence of acute LRTI, or prevalence of symptoms of acute LRTI. Vitamin A caused an increased incidence of acute LRTI in one study; an increase in cough and fever; and increased symptoms of cough and rapid breathing in two others. Three reported no differences and no protective effect of vitamin A. Two studies reported that vitamin A significantly reduced the incidence of acute LRTI with children with poor nutritional status or weight, but increased it in normal children.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS:

This unexpected result is outside our current understanding of the use of vitamin A for preventing acute LRTIs. Accordingly, vitamin A should not be given to all children to prevent acute LRTIs. There is evidence for vitamin A supplements to prevent acute LRTIs in children with low serum retinol or those with a poor nutritional status.

PMID:
18254093
DOI:
10.1002/14651858.CD006090.pub2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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