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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 May;63(5):773-81.

Effect of vitamin A supplementation on the growth of young children in northern Ghana.

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Department of Epidemiology and Population Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom.


The effect of prophylactic vitamin A supplementation on child growth was studies in two randomized, placebo-controlled trials carried out in adjacent areas of northern Ghana between 1989 and 1991. In the Health Study, the midupper arm circumference (MUAC) and weight of the approximately 1500 children (aged 6-59 mo) in the trial were measured every 4 wk for up to 52 wk. In addition, MUAC, weight, and height were measured at each of the four potential vitamin A or placebo dosing times, which were at 4-mo intervals. In the Survival Study, MUAC and weight were measured at 4-mo intervals at each of seven dosing rounds in the approximately 15 000 children currently in the trial. Overall, there were > 90 000 observations of weight and MUAC in > 25 000 children, and 3347 observations of length/height in 1546 children. Within each study, the mean monthly weight, MUAC, and gains in length/height in each treatment group were compared by using multilevel modeling. There were no significant differences in either MUAC or gains in length/height. The only significant difference in weight gain was in the Survival Study: children in the vitamin A-supplemented group who were > or = 36 mo of age had a mean weight gain that was 3 g lower per month (95% CI: 0.4, 5.0, P = 0.02) than that in the placebo group; a difference that was unlikely to be functionally important in this age group. Vitamin A supplementation did not lead to any increased growth in this population of young children, in whom supplementation reduced mortality and severe morbidity substantially.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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