We studied the effect of daily supplementation with lemon-flavored cod liver oil and a children's multivitamin-mineral supplement containing selenium on the number of pediatric visits by young, inner-city, Latino children from late autumn of 2002 through early spring of 2003.

Two private pediatric offices with similar demographics, located 1.1 miles apart in upper Manhattan, New York City, were randomized to a supplementation site and a medical records control site.

Ninety-four children (47 at each site), 6 months to 5 years of age, were enrolled. The mean age of the supplementation group was 2.03 years (SD, +/- 1.04 years); that of the control group was 2.08 years (SD, +/- 1.10 years).
Children > or = 1 year of age in the supplementation group received 1 teaspoon of lemon-flavored cod liver oil per day and one half-tablet of a children's multivitamin-mineral; the starting dose was halved for children < 1 year of age. The supplements were given from enrollment through May 1, 2003.

The primary outcome measure was the number of upper respiratory tract pediatric visits during the follow-up/supplementation period.

The supplementation group had a statistically significant decrease in the mean number of upper respiratory tract visits over time (p = .042; r = 0.893; y = 0.602 - 0.002x); the medical records control group had no change in this parameter (p = .999; r = 0.0006; y = 0.259 + 1.43 x 10(-6)x).

The supplements were well tolerated; per parental report, 70% of children completed the 5- to 6-month course of cod liver oil. Use of these nutritional supplements was acceptable to the inner-city Latino families and their young children, and was associated with a decrease in upper respiratory tract pediatric visits over time; this approach therefore deserves further research and attention.