Effect of vitamin A adjunct therapy for cerebral malaria in children admitted to Mulago hospital: a randomized controlled trial

  • J Mwanga-Amumpaire
  • G Ndeezi
  • JK Tumwine


Background: Malaria is a leading cause of mortality in Uganda accounting for 25% of deaths among children. Hitherto no adjunct therapy has been identified to improve outcome of cerebral malaria. Retinol suppresses growth of P. falciparum, scavenges free radicals, and exhibits synergistic action with quinine in parasite clearance.
Objective: To determine the effect of vitamin A supplementation on treatment outcome of cerebral malaria Methods: In this randomised double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial we studied 142 children aged 6-59 months admitted with cerebral malaria in Mulago Hospital, Kampala. Children were randomised to either vitamin A or placebo and followed for 7 days. The main outcome measures were coma recovery time, time for convulsions to stop, and parasite and fever clearance. Secondary outcomes were overall mortality and time taken to start oral feeds.
Results: There was no difference in the coma recovery time (p=0.44), resolution of convulsions (p=0.37), fever clearance (p=0.92), parasite clearance (p=0.12), and starting oral feeds between the two treatment groups. Mortality was higher (16.2%) in the placebo than in the vitamin A group (8.1%): RR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0-2.1.
Conclusions: Vitamin A as adjunct therapy did not significantly reduce coma duration but there were fewer deaths in the vitamin A arm.

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eISSN: 1680-6905