Trial of vitamin A supplementation in very low birth weight infants at risk for bronchopulmonary dysplasia

E Pearson, C Bose, T Snidow, L Ransom, T Young, G Bose, A Stiles
Journal of Pediatrics 1992, 121 (3): 420-7
We performed a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial to determine whether vitamin A supplementation in a group of very low birth weight infants would reduce the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Forty-nine infants (birth weight 700 to 1100 gm) requiring mechanical ventilation and supplemental oxygen at 96 hours age were randomly assigned to receive either 2000 IU retinyl palmitate (n = 27) or saline placebo (n = 22) intramuscularly every other day for up to 14 doses. There were no differences between treatment groups in the incidences of bronchopulmonary dysplasia at 31 days of postnatal age (vitamin A group 48%, placebo group 55%; p = 0.776), supplemental oxygen requirement at 34 weeks of postconceptional age, or other complications of prematurity. The vitamin A group had higher mean plasma vitamin A concentrations than the placebo group, but mean plasma vitamin A concentrations were greater than 20 micrograms/dl (suggesting sufficiency) in both groups after the first study week. By study day 28, only one fourth of the infants in either group had plasma vitamin A concentrations less than 20 micrograms/dl. In contrast to an earlier report, we found no change in the incidence of BPD with vitamin A supplementation. Our findings may reflect a low baseline incidence of vitamin A deficiency in the study population and recent changes in the respiratory care of very low birth weight infants. The latter may have lessened the potential impact of vitamin A deficiency on lung disease.


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