Should Vitamin A Injections to Prevent Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia or Death Be Reserved for High-Risk Infants? Reanalysis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network Randomized Trial

Objective: To determine whether infants at higher risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) or death benefit more from vitamin A therapy than those at lower risk.

Study design: We conducted a post hoc reanalysis of a landmark phase III randomized controlled trial conducted from January 1996 to July 1997 at 14 university-affiliated neonatal intensive care units in the US. Data analysis was performed from October 2019 to October 2020. Infants born weighing 401-1000 g and receiving respiratory support at 24 hours of age were assigned to intramuscular vitamin A 5000 IU or sham procedure 3 times weekly for 4 weeks. The primary outcome was BPD, defined as use of supplemental oxygen, or death at 36 weeks postmenstrual age. An externally validated model for predicting BPD or death was used to estimate the risk of these outcomes for each infant.

Results: As previously reported, 222 of 405 infants (54.8%) assigned vitamin A therapy and 248 of 402 infants (61.7%) in the control group developed BPD or died (relative risk [RR], 0.89 [95% CI, 0.80-0.99]; risk difference [RD], -6.9% [95% CI, -13.0 to -0.7]). The predicted individual risks of BPD or death ranged from 7.1% to 98.6% (median, 61.5%; mean, 60.9%). The effect of vitamin A therapy on BPD or death depended on infants' risk of the primary outcome (P = .03 for interaction): for example, a RR of 0.73 (RD, -14.5%) for infants with a 25% predicted risk and a RR of 0.96 (RD, -1.0%) for infants with a 75% risk. There was no difference in the decrease in vitamin A deficiency across risk groups.

Conclusions: Contrary to expectations, the effect of vitamin A therapy on BPD or death was greater for lower risk than higher risk infants.

Rysavy, M. A., Li, L., Tyson, J. E., Jensen, E. A., Das, A., Ambalavanan, N., Laughon, M. M., Greenberg, R. G., Patel, R. M., Pedroza, C., Bell, E. F., & Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. (2021). Should Vitamin A Injections to Prevent Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia or Death Be Reserved for High-Risk Infants? Reanalysis of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network Randomized Trial. The Journal of Pediatrics236, 78-85.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2021.05.022