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Vitamin A for measles in children

Yang HM, Mao M, Wan C
Published Online: 
6 July 2011

Measles is caused by a virus and possible complications include pneumonia. Measles is a major cause of death in children in low-income countries and is particularly dangerous in children with vitamin A deficiency. Eight studies involving 2574 participants were included in this review and we found that there was no significant reduction in mortality in children receiving vitamin A. However, vitamin A megadoses (200,000 international units (IUs) on each day for two days) lowered the number of deaths from measles in hospitalized children under the age of two years. Two doses of vitamin A are not considered to be too expensive, and are not likely to produce adverse effects.

The authors conclude that vitamin A megadoses appear effective in reducing mortality from measles in children under two years old and have few associated adverse events. There is insufficient evidence to draw conclusions regarding effectiveness in preventing pneumonia or other complications in children. However, the quality of the evidence was generally moderate. Better quality randomized trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy of Vitamin A for treating measles in children.

This record should be cited as: 
Yang HM, Mao M, Wan C. Vitamin A for treating measles in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD001479. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001479.pub3
Assessed as up to date: 
1 March 2011