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Vitamin A and Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection

Brian W. Donnelly, MD
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(8):882. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170330108021.
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In their article published in the January 1996 issue of the Archives,1 the authors administered 100 000 U of vitamin A solution to 21 children with respiratory syncytial infection and observed no clinical benefit compared with controls. Since we know that children can be intoxicated by lower vitamin A intakes compared with adults,2 can we assume that such a huge dose would cause no harm in these children? β-Carotene supplementation, however, has been shown to be beneficial without causing acute or chronic toxic side effects. This finding has resulted in the greater use of β-carotene in lieu of retinol in prenatal vitamin supplements.3 Would the children in this study have benefited more from the administration of β-carotene instead of retinol?

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