Vitamin A levels and severity of measles. New York City

Am J Dis Child. 1992 Feb;146(2):182-6. 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 mumol/L; 20 (22%) were low. Children with low levels were more likely to have fever at a temperature of 40 degrees 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.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Measles / blood*
  • Measles / drug therapy
  • Measles / immunology
  • New York City
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Vitamin A / blood*
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Vitamin A