Vitamin A supplementation of young infants

Jean H. Humphrey, Amy L. Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


A meta-analysis of several large trials established that vitamin A supplementation of 6-month-old to 5-year-old children living in areas where vitamin A is deficient can reduce their risk of dying by an average of 23%. However, published studies are less conclusive about the necessity, safety, or the benefits of such supplementation. In this article, the authors argue that infant vitamin A supplementation should be increased rather than abandoned. According to studies from Bangladesh, Brazil, and Indonesia, 25% to over 90% of the 6-month-old infants studied had inadequate liver stores. These breast-fed infants of undernourished mothers will need additional vitamin A to attain normal physiological stores at 6 months of age. In terms of safety, it is noted that the only common acute side effect of the intervention is bulging of the fontanelle, and there are no long-term developmental consequences. Moreover, an Indonesian study highlighted that the intervention reduces infant mortality by 64% when vitamin A supplements are given on the first day of life and during the first 4 months of life. Furthermore, the minimum requirement of vitamin A given to infants is 237 mcmol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-424
Number of pages3
Issue number9227
StatePublished - Jul 29 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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