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February 1992

Vitamin A Levels and Severity of Measles: New York City

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Field Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office (Drs Frieden, Henning, and Gunn), and the Center for Environmental Health and Injury Control (Drs Sowell and Huff), Centers for Disease Control, and the New York City Department of Health (Drs Frieden and Henning), New York, NY.

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(2):182-186. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160140048019

• Recent studies show that vitamin A levels decrease during measles and that vitamin A therapy can improve measles outcome in children in the developing world. Vitamin A levels of children with measles have not been studied in developed countries. We therefore measured vitamin A levels in 89 children with measles younger than 2 years and in a reference group in New York City, NY. Vitamin A levels in children with measles ranged from 0.42 to 3.0 μmol/L; 20 (22%) were low. Children with low levels were more likely to have fever at a temperature of 40°C or higher (68% vs 44%), to have fever for 7 days or more (54% vs 23%), and to be hospitalized (55% vs 30%). Children with low vitamin A levels had lower measles-specific antibody levels. No child in the reference group had a low vitamin A level. Our data show that many children younger than 2 years in New York City have low vitamin A levels when ill with measles, and that such children seem to have lower measles-specific antibody levels and increased morbidity. Clinicians may wish to consider vitamin A therapy for children younger than 2 years with severe measles. Additional studies of vitamin A in measles and other infectious diseases, and in vaccine efficacy trials, should be done.

(AJDC. 1992;146:182-186)

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