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Vitamin A Supplements Could Save The Lives Of 600,000 Children A Year, Researchers Say

“Giving vitamin A supplements to children under the age of five in developing countries could save 600,000 lives a year, researchers claim” in a paper published Thursday in the British Medical Journal, BBC News reports. “U.K. and Pakistani experts assessed 43 studies involving 200,000 children, and found deaths were cut by 24 percent if children were given the vitamin … And they say taking it would also cut rates of measles and diarrhea,” the news agency writes.

The BBC notes that there has “been recent criticism of vitamin A programs — with some saying there were risks that respiratory infection rates could increase, particularly in children who were not vitamin A deficient” (8/26).  But the researchers say “the benefits of vitamin A are so clear” that “starting any new trials to test vitamin A on kids — using a standard placebo vs. treatment trial — would be unethical for the kids getting the placebo,” according to NPR’s “Shots” blog (Barclay, 8/26).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.