Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Vitamin A supplements and mortality related to measles: a randomised clinical trial.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 31 January 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:294
  1. A J Barclay,
  2. A Foster,
  3. A Sommer


    One hundred and eighty children admitted with measles were randomly allocated to receive routine treatment alone or with additional large doses of vitamin A (200,000 IU orally immediately and again the next day). Baseline characteristics of the two groups were virtually identical for age, severity of measles, and vitamin A and general nutritional states. In 91% of the children serum vitamin A concentrations were less than 0.56 mumol/l. Of the 88 subjects given vitamin A supplements, six (7%) died; of the 92 controls, 12 (13%) died (p = 0.13). This difference in mortality was most obvious for children aged under 2 years (one death out of 46 children receiving supplements versus seven deaths out of 42 controls; p less than 0.05) and for cases complicated by croup or laryngotracheobronchitis. Mortality was several times higher in marasmic than in better nourished children, regardless of study allocation (p less than 0.01).