Oral vitamin A supplementation in very low birth weight neonates: a randomized controlled trial

Sriparna Basu, Parul Khanna, Ragini Srivastava, Ashok Kumar
European Journal of Pediatrics 2019, 178 (8): 1255-1265
This randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial evaluated the effects of early postnatal oral vitamin A supplementation (VAS) in 196 inborn very-low birth weight (VLBW) infants requiring respiratory support at 24 h of age. Eligible infants were randomized to receive aqueous syrup of vitamin A (10,000 IU of retinol/dose; n = 98) or placebo (n = 98) on alternate days for 28 days. Primary outcome variable was composite incidence of all-cause mortality and/or oxygen requirement for 28 days. Secondary outcome variables were safety/tolerability of VAS, serum retinol concentration at recruitment and day 28, duration of oxygen requirement and respiratory support and incidences of complications. On intention-to-treat analysis, composite incidence of all-cause mortality and oxygen requirement for 28 days was significantly lower in vitamin A group (relative risk (95% confidence interval), 0.440 (0.229-0.844); p < 0.05, number needed to benefit, 7). Requirement and duration of oxygen supplementation and non-invasive respiratory support, incidences of late-onset sepsis, patent ductus arteriosus, and duration of hospital stay were also significantly lower in vitamin A group. Serum retinol concentration improved significantly after VAS. No major adverse effect was observed.Conclusions: Early postnatal oral VAS was associated with better composite outcome of all-cause mortality and oxygen requirement without any major adverse effects.Clinical Trial Registration: Clinical Trials Registry of India (CTRI/2017/03/008131). What is Known: • Postnatal intramuscular vitamin A supplementation improves the survival, respiratory outcome and other morbidities in very low birth weight neonates without major adverse effects. • Limited studies on oral vitamin A supplementation did not document substantial benefits. What is New: • Early postnatal alternate-day oral vitamin A supplementation at the dose of 10,000 IU/dose for 28 days improves the composite outcome of death and oxygen requirement in very low birth weight neonates with respiratory distress • No major adverse effects were documented.

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