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Pneumonia in children not stopped for 6 months by single dose of vitamin D (3 months max) – RCT Nov 2016

Vitamin D supplementation for treatment and prevention of pneumonia in under-five children: A randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial

Indian Pediatrics, November 2016, Volume 53, Issue 11, pp 967–976, DOI: 10.1007/s13312-016-0970-5
Piyush Gupta, Pooja DewanDheeraj ShahNisha SharmaNidhi BediIqbal R. KaurAjay Kumar BansalS.V. Madhu

Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of single oral mega-dose of Vitamin D3 for treatment and prevention of pneumonia in underfive children.

Design: Randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Setting: Tertiary-care hospital.

Participants: 324 children (of 980 assessed) between 6 mo-5 y age (median (IQR): 12 (7,19.8) mo) with WHO-defined severe pneumonia. Of these, 126 (39%) were vitamin D deficient (serum 25(OH)D <12 ng/mL).

Intervention: 100,000 IU of oral cholecalciferol (n= 162) or placebo (n= 162) in single dose, administered at enrolment.

Outcome variables: Primary: Time to resolution of severe pneumonia and proportion of children having recurrence of pneumonia in next 6 months; Secondary: Change in serum levels of 25(OH)D; immunoglobulins IgA, IgG, IgM, and cathelicidin 2 weeks following supplementation; and time taken for overall resolution of illness.

Results: Median (95% CI) time for resolution of severe pneumonia was 30 (29, 31) h in the vitamin D group as compared to 31 (29,33) h in the placebo group [adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI): 1·39 (1·11, 1·76); P=0·005]. The risk of recurrence of pneumonia in next 6 months was comparable in the two groups [placebo: 36/158 (22·8%); vitamin D: 39/156 (25%); RR (95% CI): 1·13 (0·67,1·90); P=0·69]. Proportion of vitamin D deficient children declined from 38% to 4% in the supplementation group, and from 41% to 33% in the placebo group, two weeks after supplementation. There was no significant effect of vitamin D supplementation on serum levels of cathelicidin, IgA and IgG. The time taken for complete recovery from pneumonia, duration of hospitalization, and fever clearance time were comparable for the two groups. No adverse event was noted related to the intervention.

Conclusion: There is no robust evidence of a definite biological benefit, either for therapy or prevention, to suggest a routine megadose supplement of vitamin D3 for under-five children with severe pneumonia.

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