Vitamin A supplementation in HIV-infected infants and children 6–59 months of age
Vitamin A deficiency affects about 190 million preschool-age children, mostly from Africa and South-East Asia. In infants and children, vitamin A is essential to support rapid growth and to help combat infections. Inadequate intakes of vitamin A may lead to vitamin A deficiency which can cause visual impairment in the form of night blindness, may increase the risk of illness and death from childhood infections, and may compound the effects of HIV infection.
Research has shown that vitamin A supplementation in HIV-infected infants and children is safe and effective in reducing illness and death. Vitamin A can be safely provided to children in a large dose, rather than more frequent smaller doses, as it can be stored by the body and released over time as needed.
Many countries have successfully integrated strategies to deliver vitamin A supplements to infants and children in their national health policies, including delivery during routine health visits and immunizations.
High-dose vitamin A supplementation is recommended in infants and children 6–59 months of age in settings where vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem.
The above recommendation can also be applied in populations where infants and children may be infected with HIV.
A suggested scheme for vitamin A supplementation in infants and children 6–59 months of age can be found in the guideline, Vitamin A supplementation for infants and children 6-59 months of age, under 'WHO documents' below.
Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
- Micronutrient supplementation in children and adults with HIV infection
- Vitamin A supplementation for preventing morbidity and mortality in children from 6 months to 5 years of age