Objective: To assess the impact of vitamin A supplementation on morbidity from acute respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea. Design: Double blind randomised placebo controlled field trial. Setting: An urban slum area in New Delhi, India. Subjects—900 children aged 12-60 months attending a local health facility for acute diarrhoea of less than seven days' duration randomly allocated to receive vitamin A 200000 IU or placebo. Main outcome measures: Incidence and prevalence of acute lower respiratory tract infections and diarrhoea during the 90 days after termination of the enrolment diarrhoeal episode measured by twice weekly household surveillance. Results: The incidence (relative risk 1.07; 95% confidence interval 0.92 to 1.26) and average number of days spent with acute lower respiratory tract infections were similar in the vitamin A supplementation and placebo groups. Among children aged 23 months or less there was a significant reduction in the incidence of measles (relative risk 0.06; 95% confidence interval 0.01 to 0.48). The incidence of diarrhoea was also similar (relative risk 0.95; 0.86 to 1.05) in the two groups. There was a 36% reduction in the mean daily prevalence of diarrhoea associated with fever in the vitamin A supplemented children older than 23 months. Conclusions: Results were consistent with a lack of impact on acute lower respiratory tract related mortality after vitamin A supplementation noted in other trials and a possible reduction in the severity of diarrhoea.
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