Vitamin A supplementation in very low birth weight infants

Riddhi Shukla, The University of Texas School of Public Health


PURPOSE: In United States, the percentage of Extremely Low Birth Weight (ELBW) born for year 2006 was 0.8% (approximately 32,000 babies) & Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) 1.48% (1). ELBW babies account for nearly half (49%) of the infant mortality for United States. Very Low birth weight infants are at a significant risk for high mortality and morbidity due to their multi system involvement and predisposition to lung prematurity and impaired immune function. One of the common causes cited is Vitamin A deficiency (2, 3).The purpose of this study is to look at published literature on Vitamin A supplementation in very low birth weight (VLBW) infants. RESEARCH DESIGN: Systematic review of literature of published articles meeting the pre-defined criteria. PROCEDURE: Studies included in this review were those which looked at very low birth weight infants defined as birth weight<1500gms. All experimental studies were reviewed. Studies looking at the effect of Vitamin A supplementation in comparison with a placebo or by itself in varying dosing regimens as an intervention were reviewed. Vitamin A deficiency and its manifestations were of interest. We used key words such as "very low birth weight", "mortality", "Vitamin A", "retinol" and "supplementation" in our search. RISKS & POTENTIAL BENEFITS: We do not see any potential risks associated with this study. The potential benefit is recommendation for future studies based on the review of literature available currently. IMPORTANCE OF KNOWLEDGE THAT MAY REASONABLY BE EXPECTED TO RESULT: The systematic review of literature of all experimental studies in VLBW infants showed uniform correlation of parenteral Vitamin A dosing and high plasma concentrations achieved. The recommended dosage for use is 5000 IU 3 times/week given intramuscularly for 4 weeks to prevent CLD. Higher doses have not shown benefit, with a potential for toxicity, while lower doses are inadequate. There is no role of use of Vitamin A in closure of patent ductus arteriosus & reducing mortality. However, it is important to state that the number of studies done so far is limited with small sample sizes. There is a need in the future for experimental studies to ascertain the role of Vitamin A to improve outcomes in VLBW. Atleast, one more RCT should be conducted using the dosage recommended above to make this a standard practice.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Shukla, Riddhi, "Vitamin A supplementation in very low birth weight infants" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1528837.